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Leaps and Bounds

by Julia Sneden

Well, tempus has fugited again. Our oldest grandchild is about to graduate from high school. There’s no point in maundering on about “Where did the time go?” She didn’t come into our family until she was seven, so we knew the years would be short until she left her family’s nest, but short doesn’t mean they haven’t been precious to us.

My husband and I were both 60 when we became grandparents, and by that time, we were more than ready: we were chomping at the bit. What we weren’t ready for was falling in love with this child at first sight. Yes, she was as pretty a child as I’d ever seen. Yes, she had nice manners. Yes, she seemed to like us. But what I wasn’t prepared for was a seven-year-old who, upon hearing a tune on the radio, cried: “Oh, that’s from Carmen!” That did it for me. I was a goner.

As I wrote in my first column about our relationship, despite instant love, it takes time to become truly comfortable with new members of a family, even if they’re babies. Gina and I have enjoyed some cozy years and weathered some not-so-cozy ones, as she navigated being uprooted from her native state in the midst of early adolescence. I believe we’re back to cozy, these days. Age helps, both hers and mine.

These days she is driving, and has a car and a job to go with it. She has developed into a responsible student, rising a good hour before the rest of the family in order to prepare herself for the day and get herself out the door on time. She plays clarinet in the school orchestra and works on her guitar at home. It’s no surprise that the music world is her career direction, at least for now. That, of course, may change as she explores college choices.

She applied to an interesting array of colleges, and has been fortunate enough to have had several acceptances from which to choose. Am I a bragging Grandma? You bet your boots I am.

She’s an independent thinker, this sweet, agreeable young woman. She has strong opinions, but you have to dig deep to discover them because she is quietly accepting of others, even those who disagree with her. She stays in tune with her own feelings. She is an exceptionally loyal friend, a quality we’ve noticed in her since she was quite young. Her anger is deeply stirred by injustice (real or perceived).

And with all the above, she is fun. Sparkly, goofy, fun. No wonder her younger siblings adore her. Oh, there are moments when she blows them off or groans about babysitting (she is, after all, a teenager), but I expect she will always be there for them at need, and vice versa.

We are, of course, going to her graduation, and will applaud at the appropriate place with all the other proud parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents. There will be a sea of caps and gowns, with everyone straining to see which child belongs to them. I expect Gina will be easy to spot, with her long, black curly hair. Her beauty is definitely not the cookie-cutter type: she stands out without even trying.

Beyond all doubt, we’ll have a lump in our throats, and will struggle not to weep openly. But the hardest part will be restraining the urge to shout out:

"Gina, We Love You to Pieces!

So I’ll save her from embarrassment, and say it here instead. I don’t think there’s much danger that her teenage friends read SeniorWomenWeb!

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