Ellie — Opa and I took a wonderful trip to Seattle to see you and your parents two weeks ago. We came back with lots of warm memories, a zillion photos of you and us, and, as a bonus, the cold you had.
What did we want to do while we were in Seattle? your mother had asked. It was an easy question: Not much. We just wanted to spend time with the three of you.
So, we rolled around on the floor with you. Opa gave you crawling lessons that you pretty much ignored.
He and I took you to the park and sat on the grass with you. We listened to you unleash a string of syllables when you felt talkative.
“Da-da,” you said.
“Ma-ma,” I prompted. Or, more surreptitiously, “Co-co. Co-co.”
“Da-da,” you replied, happy with yourself. “Da-da.”
Saturday morning, your other grandparents, Marci and Dave, drove an hour from Olympia to have lunch with all of us. Here we are with you:
Marci and Dave also live close to their other three grandchildren, so they’re kind of in grandparent heaven, as far as I can tell. If we weren’t so crazy about them, Opa and I would probably be wildly jealous of them. But they’re too lovely to resent.
Marci, who’s from a tiny town on the Kansas prairie, still works as a school guidance counselor. She’s the extrovert of the pair, energetic, warm, and talkative. Dave, who worked as an occupational therapist, is quieter and slyly funny.
I love them because they’re your father’s parents and good, caring people. But I also love their quirky, offbeat personalities.
Dave collects gongs in his backyard in Olympia, for no particular reason I’ve been informed of — he just likes gongs. He also always liked to play jokes, your father says: “When we were growing up, he used to glue quarters to the floor of his VW and told my mom – who never let change go unpicked – she could have every last quarter she could pick up.”
And Marci, I learned recently, earned her private pilot’s license when she was young. I wasn’t completely surprised: I could have already told you she’s a lot more adventurous and daring than I am. According to your father, she was also the first girl to bring knee-high boots to northwest Kansas, which sent her small town reeling.
But other times, like now, I simply want to recount a moment in time you won’t remember yourself.
So, there we all were in Seattle on the weekend of March 18th-20th, 2016. We had brisk, edgy spring weather and uncertain blue skies and a sharp breeze.
Your parents were still young, good-looking, and fun, as you can see.
Your four grandparents were still physically upright, cheerful, and rapturous about your every movement and syllable.
You kept trying to crawl and talk. It was clear that, at seven months, you were becoming less of a baby and more of a toddler-to-be. Sometimes I looked at you, trying to see the girl, then young woman, you will become.
That’s just human nature, always thinking of the future and distracting ourselves. We can never quite still our minds to fully enjoy the present — even when the skies are blue, the baby is bursting with promise, and the older adults around her are lucky to be upright and healthy on such a gorgeous day.
So, I’m telling you this story of a single, beautiful day when we all had so much fun with you. It was just perfect. Love you, Coco
(Copyright 2016 by Ruth Pennebaker)