The grace and wisdom of grandparenting comes from knowing just how quickly these days will fly away.
One day in the not so far away future, I will be in my living room alone. I’ll have a good book, probably a laptop, and a dog or two snoozing at my feet. Life will be OK.
But what I won’t have on that future day is the sound of little voices filling the air with bubbles of joy. I won’t have the always amusing lilt of Ellie as she narrates our day together.
Last night as I was falling asleep, I kept hearing the sound of her words, complete with every mispronunciation. I thought to myself, “I hear her say my name hundreds of times every day.” I never ever want to forget the way she says it. “Nah-nni” she calls, as she points out every event. “Nah-nni.” My heard floods with salty love at the thought of her speaking my name.
“Nonni, why is this happening? Why is this box not fitting on my head?”
“Nonni, know what I was thinking? I was thinking about cookies, Nonni, are you thinking about cookies?”
“I love my pretty goolie, Nonni! (jewelry).”
“Where are your ancestors, Nonni? Where are they now?” (We’ve been watching Moana.)
Or those moments when she is sipping from her cup of “milkies” and leans that curly head against my shoulder. She’ll sort of just murmur, her lips still clasped around the straw, “My Nonni.”
I want to save it. I want to record every word. I want to capture every question and keep it frozen in time. I want to preserve the feeling of her hair on my cheek. The feel of her breath on my closed eyelids as we fall asleep together.
I’m selfish. I want to keep these moments.
I want them all.
And then there’s Little Johnny, our beautiful boy. Every tiny new skill is a miracle. He can chomp on his own toes! He can raise his arms to ask me to pick him up! He is starting to babble, and to say “Mama”. He eats and its a hilarious festival of goofy faces and veggies up the nose.
They’re both just like every other miraculous child who has ever lived. But they’re OURS. In my Nonni heart, they’re MINE.
And I want to keep every second. I want them all to myself. I don’t want to share them, or miss them, or forget them. Ever.
Because I know this time around that before I can even catch my breath, the lilting little voices will be gone. The baby smiles will pass. The tender hugs and whispered words, “Oh, my Nonni” will have given way to the rest of their lives.
I can’t save these moments, any more than I could have saved the same tender moments with my own babies. We aren’t meant to hold onto time. I know that.
I know that time has to move. I know that. I can’t hold these days in my two hands.
But I can breathe in the emotion. I can swallow the love and plant it deep inside of me, in my very soul. I can feed it with my memories, and with all the love that I pour back into my little ones.
And one day, when I am sitting in my living room all alone, I will close my eyes. I will conjure up a picture of Ellie dancing in the living in room in her tutu and her “goolie” with a box on her head. I’ll see Johnny’s big shining eyes as he gazes up at her in adoration.
And I’ll remind myself that I have been the luckiest Momma and the luckiest Nonni who has ever lived, anywhere, anytime.
“Oh, Nonni, you are a silly lady!!! I love you, Nonni!”