The call came about 5:30 A.M.
My son-in-law sounded rather frantic as he croaked, "You have to come right now. RIGHT NOW! The baby's coming and I don't think we can make it to the hospital!"
I'm nothing if not cool under pressure...I pulled on some clothing, grabbed my car keys and turned off the bedroom light, ran into the bathroom...and then began to pack a make-up bag! What the...????
My daughter's having a baby any minute and I'm packing my make-up?
Throwing the makeup and bag aside, I raced outside to my car, drove as fast as was safe to do in the early morning mist and ran up the steps to my daughter's front door. My two little grandchildren were standing in the doorway of the kitchen, looking completely puzzled and still a little sleepy. The rest of the time is a blur...the son-in-law running back to the bedroom...the ambulance screeching to a halt in front of the house...2 EMT's and our wonderful doctor tumbling out and hustling in through the front door and down the hallway, towing the stretcher.
Within a few seconds, my second granddaughter slid into the world, without any fanfare.
She just appeared.
No fuss, no muss.
The next thing I remember is the stretcher coming down the hallway towards me with my daughter on it, wrapped in blankets. My new granddaughter followed, in the arms of one of the EMT's. The darling baby was wrapped in a shiny silver heat-saver blanket...looking for all the world like a baked potato! I smothered a giggle at the thought...but my 2 grandchildren standing with me looked at me and giggled back!
After everyone left for the hospital, I wrapped my granddaughter and my grandson in a huge quilt and sat with them in the living room on the sofa, talking about babies and new sisters and what it was like to be awake so early. Within minutes, their eyes were closing, and soon after tucking them into their beds, they were sound asleep again, like nothing had happened!
Nothing much, with the slender exception of the birth of their baby sister. I sat in the living room on the sofa, thinking about how short a time ago it seemed that their mother, my daughter, was born on a night like this while it was still dark outside. I was scared beyond belief, my husband was stunned silent by the imminent arrival of our first-born, and sufficed to say we were both overwhelmed with what was happening to us that night. After what seemed like a hundred hours of labour, our daughter was born.
I remember that we looked at each other for a moment and both of us were crying...me from exhaustion and pain, him from exhaustion and relief. How much simpler this little girl's entry into this world was! Very little pain, for her mother to speak of, no muss, no fuss...she simply appeared! From the very beginning of her life, I thought of her as a silent, shy soul who had slipped into this world without any fanfare at all.
She was a tiny doll of a child, from the first moment I saw her...delicate, exquisitely beautiful, shy and quiet. From an infant to a toddler, nothing changed. Her quiet and simple ways were like soothing salve to my heart. This little one could turn me around totally...changing my day from a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad one to a lovely little evening, sharing dinner with her and her family.
Somewhere along the way, I began calling her 'Missy Pants'...I've no idea why, it just happened. I cannot remember whether I heard her mother calling her that name or if it began with me. It wasn't a name that made any sense, but it seemed to fit her, nonetheless. 'Missy Pants' it was and 'Missy Pants' it stayed. I'm not sure if I've ever called her that to her face, but that is how I referred to her, when I was grandmother-bragging about her to my friends and family!
This luscious little girl could grow hair like no one I've ever known...when she was only a few years old, her hair was a shimmering, thick and golden-flecked cascade that rolled down her back and long past her waist. Never one to walk with the crowd, 'Missy Pants' came to my salon one afternoon, for a haircut. Thinking it was going to be a routine trim and braids, I had spoken with her mother earlier to ensure that we were in agreement as to what we were going to do to her hair that day. To my surprise, her mother told me that 'Miss Missy Pants' wanted her long and glorious hair cut short! SHORT! I was in shock...
So, as she settled in the chair to have her hair shampooed, I casually asked her how she wanted her hair cut that day.
"Short," she stated emphatically.
"Are you sure?" I asked, hesitatingly.
"Of course," she said without hesitation. "I can't brush it myself now, and I WANT to," she asserted.
"What will it be like for you when you go back to school with short hair tomorrow ? Do you think your teacher will mind that you've cut it? Or, do you think you will miss having it long, after we cut it?" I asked, carefully.
"Grandma, it's just HAIR!" she said, looking me straight in the eye, in the wall mirror above the chair.
And, we got on with the job at hand!
I shampooed her hair, rinsing it well, flushing a good detangler and conditioner through her heavy, thick below-the-waist hair, for the last time in who knows how long. After combing it out, drying up the puddles of water that had dripped from the hair onto the floor around the cutting chair, I began to section it off, clipping it up, and started cutting...
She said nothing, simply sat still, looking at her hands under the cutting cape that I'd draped over her clothes and clipped at the nape of her neck. Neither watching the more-than-foot-long slices of her hair slipping to the floor or looking at herself in the mirror, this little tiny mite of a girl sat silently, while I cut away the longest head of hair I'd ever cut, in over 25 years as a stylist. I've seen grown women cry, sob, wail and throw a perfect hissy-fit when getting their hair cut from long to shorter. Not this little miss...she sat and took it all in, not making a sound. No fuss, no muss.
After I was finished cutting and drying her new style, and began taking the cape from around her neck, she heaved a huge sigh, lifted her head, looked at her reflection in the wall mirror, smiled at me and said," That's MUCH better! I feel so much lighter now...thank you, Grandma! I'll be able to brush it myself from now on!"
It was the independence that she liked! Being able to do it for herself...that was what seemed to matter the most. She wanted to begin being a grown-up and this was one of her first steps along the path!
As 'Missy Pants' grew up, there were many occasions when I saw this independence flash again and again, and it always made me smile a little, because it was so much like her mother's nature. My husband's mother sat on out front lawn one sunny afternoon a small lifetime ago, holding my baby daughter on her lap, and she made this loving pronouncement about that tiny darling chaid, "You are such an independent little stick, aren't you?"
It isn't that long ago that I took 'Missy Pants' and her older sister clothes shopping. We spent the day in and out of glorious shops...Le Chateau, Blue Winds, Max Shoes...and when we were almost shopped out, we stopped in a shoe store and there, on a shelf about eye level, were a stunning pair of white trackers with lime green laces. I could tell that she was in love with these shoes, as she held one in her small hand, turning it this way and that. After a few moments she set the shoe back on the shelf, walked over to her sister and me and we left the store.
While we were browsing in Le Chateau later on, I noticed that 'Missy Pants' had disappeared. A little worried, I headed to the front of the store, only to meet her as she was coming back in the front doorway...carrying a shoe bag from the store next door!
"What have you treated yourself to?" I asked
She smiled her shy little half smile and opened the bag, showing me those luscious white trackers with the lime green laces!
"They were really expensive, Grandma!" she said, looking up at me from under her lowered lashes.
"Do you love them, though?" I asked.
"Yes, of course I do! That's why I bought them!" she told me, somewhat surprised that I'd asked a question with such an obvious answer.
"Good for you! Congratulations! That's what you must do...if you love it and you have the money...buy it!" I replied, smiling broadly at this lovely child.
She wanted them.
She had the money from a long-saved paycheque.
End of story.
No fuss, no muss.
Just a few months ago, we made a weekend trip into the city, stayed at a gorgeous B. & B. and went shopping together. For Christmas, I'd given her a shopping trip with me, along with a handsome sum of the green stuff to spend in her favorite music store, HMV. We had the best time...completely wrapped up in a huge golden ribbon and tied together with fun! She found the CD's that she'd been dreaming of, she bought them and a few other luxurious treats for herself, and we simply enjoyed the weekend.
Somewhere along the way, we began a ritual almost as old as 'Missy Pants' herself. She will look at me, smile that little shy smile of hers and tell me, " I loved you first."
My response is, ""No, I loved YOU first!"
"I saw you first, then..." She tosses back at me.
"Nope, not true! I saw YOU first!" I tell her.
This lovely little relationship we have is a wonderful treasure to me...easy as pie, simple as can be...
It just is.