Kendra Ann, 1 year
It happened. And I felt like I was in the middle of a Lifetime movie. Let me explain: a few days ago Kendra and I were running errands after school. We went to the department store to pick up a few things ("Did you see how long my legs are Mommy?" "I sure do. Looks like we need some new jeans." "Yeah, 'cause I'm real real tall now.") and while there we had to go to the big gum ball machine which is of course right by the boy's department where there were dinosaur t-shirts on display so of course we had to get a new boy's dinosaur t-shirt which would only do if we were able to wear it right over our current outfit. Am I painting a good picture? So she's looking, let's say, "quirky," at this point (but real happy).
So, we finish up there and head on to Trader Joe's to get something fabulous (okay, quick and easy 'cause I'm tired and it's been a long day) for dinner . . . when I saw her. Right there by the dairy case was Kendra's Great Grandmother by birth. And it's been over 5 years since we've seen her. She was the one who was the most conflicted about her Granddaughter giving up the baby for adoption. Kendra's birthmother had lost her mother as a child, so Grandma was very much involved in raising her. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to see a piece of her Daughter and Granddaughter go at that time. And I froze. I saw her first and for a moment there, wasn't sure what to do. But I would hate to just ignore her so I pulled up my big girl pants, took a deep breath and walked up . . .
"Hi" I said with a cautious smile. "Do you remember us?" She looked at me and then at Kendra. I bent down to Kendra and said in the lightest tone I could muster, "Baby Girl, this is _______'s Grandma!" Of course I knew I was also announcing who we were in case she wasn't sure. But that's probably silly. "Hello" she returned kindly. Kendra clung to me and hid her face. "I'm sorry, she's being shy right now." "That's okay, hi sweetheart" (or something along those lines because I don't remember it clearly). By way of explanation I say, "she's normally very vocal. . . Kendra, do you want to say hello?" "Hello" she whispered. I knew what to do to get her talking: "Kendra, do you want to tell her what you're going to be when you grow up?" "Gonna be a Paleontologist, the one who (dis)covers dinosaur bones." "Do you like dinosaurs?" "Yeah, and I'm real smart." "I'm sure you are. . . ." And from there I proceeded to tell her all about the little one. How she is the smallest in her class ("I'm not surprised") but she has one of the biggest hearts, and how, at 5 years old, she is reading and has received all 100%'s on her spelling tests. How she is very much a tomboy ("all the girls in our family are") and that she likes to ride quads and dirt bikes with her Dad. And all the while I am very aware of the stolen glances on both of our parts. I looking for familiar features and she doing the same. And in that moment, I realized that we are all alike. That this separation and then coming together of families by way of adoption is such a delicate and beautiful thing. "I still have the picture you gave me in that elegant frame. I look at it all the time." "And we still have the stuffed monkey you gave us when she was a baby. Kendra knows that it came from you." To which we smiled - a knowing, tender exchange - and she said, "You're doing a wonderful job. She obviously has a wonderful family." "Thank you. We are very lucky." "Mommy, can I have a sticker?" "Sure Baby" I said, relieved to have a place to go with the conversation. "They always give her a bunch of stickers here." Another sweet smile. "Well, it was so nice running into you." "You too." "Maybe we'll see you around again." "That would be nice." Yes. It would be nice. And with that, we left in search of stickers and she went back to the dairy case.
That was it. Our movie moment. And to be honest, I'm glad that I stepped forward and said hello. I hope Great Grandma was happy too. She seemed to be.