It was in the quiet of the morning, after my husband, daughter, and oldest son pulled out of the driveway to make the long drive to retrieve her personal belongings that led me to a place where memories live. There is something beautiful about being up at 3 in the morning, no noise, no distractions, no place to be and no thing that needs to be done, add to this the waxing moon and the scene is set for reflection.
I remember the day all too well 21 years ago when a scared 16-year-old girl had to tell her daddy that she was pregnant. I will never forget the fear in my heart or the disappointment in his voice. I will not candy coat history and say he was all sugar and love. He was not, he was angry, so angry in fact I thought he would never forgive me or be able to love that baby. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The minute my dad laid eyes on his granddaughter his heart melted like butter and she owned his heart in a way neither one of us expected, and I would predict in a way no one ever had. In fact, he loved her so much that when she was two, we had to go to counseling because I was jealous of the love, time, and patience he had for her. That sixteen year old girl couldn’t have been more wrong, my baby, all of my babies since then could not have asked for a better grandfather.
Ashlin and her Papa are two peas in a pod. She adores him and he adores her. She understands him and he her in a way no other human can. They think the same way, they have the same temperament, and they both have little tolerance for stupidity. The only difference is that he has softened with time and she is young and still learning how to soften up.
If you read this blog you are aware that 4 months ago Ashlin moved back to Nevada to strike out on her own. What she learned is that you plan your life and the universe changes your plans. Ashlin loved being back with her horse, her friend, and back in the heat but she loves her Papa more. Three weeks ago she called us to tell us that while she loves it there and someday may go back she loves her Papa and knowing that he was in End Stage Renal Failure, she was feeling pulled to come home. She felt that he was progressing so fast that she was losing time she wouldn’t be able to get back.
There have been many things over the course of her life that she has done that I am proud of but I have never been prouder of her than I am at this moment. She knows that there is not going to be another chance with her Papa, that her time of memory making is shortening, and as she told me it is her time to rise up and be the strong one for him and for me. “Mom, I know you have it all together, but I know this is harder for you then you let on. I need to come home because that is how I was raised, that is what Papa would want.” She has decided to put her plans on hold to take care of her family and spend whatever time is left with her Papa.
Sometimes I forget that my little girl has grown up. In my mind she is that little girl who would to run to get into bed with Grams and Papa, and believed that her Papa was Santa but she has grown into a woman who knows what is important. She knows that people don’t live forever and that there may never be a tomorrow to make right what you did wrong yesterday. No one knows how long they will live but they get to decide how they will live and how they will love the people who have loved them. She has decided that there is nothing more important than honoring the relationship with her Papa for however long she has left to do so.
So as I lay down to sleep tonight, my heart is full of gratitude
For so many answered and unanswered prayers
For 38 years of memories with a man who I am blessed to call dad
For a strong teenage son who can hold his Papa up when he falls
For an innocent son who still believes that his Papa is Santa Claus
For a husband who says, tell dad I love him
For a brother who says I will be strong when you can’t
For a sister-in-law who has become my SISTER there is no in law anymore
For my mother for showing us what love is
For a daughter who is wise beyond her years and puts her family first
There is a picture that my parents have of my dad showing Ashlin her first snow, I wish I had a copy to share as it is priceless but the next best thing I have is a picture that was taken back in 2008. I like this picture because it has my mom and dad with their girl, it was back when he was healthier and you can see just how ornery he is and if you know Ash you now know where she gets a little bit of it from. 😉