I’ve never liked the name Gramma. It goes against the grain to hear this grammatically incorrect version of what could be a lovely name for a lovely position. I mean, think of the alternatives— Grandmama, Nonna, Nanny, Mimi…anything but Gramma! At least that’s the way I always felt.
And then it happened. There I was, wandering through Hobby Lobby —- not really for any reason since I am not a ‘craft’ person. I think I was simply there to support their business, but that is an entirely different issue — yes, there I was with my little granddaughter, wandering. Now, normally, Sofya calls me Baboushka and I call her Sofya, with the accent on the first syllable, not Sofia. That is the American translation.
When suddenly, she said it! She called me Gramma! What? And not once, but repeatedly. Each time she spoke to me, she used THAT word. Her mom looked at me and chuckled,
“She must have heard it on TV. American children call their Baboushkas Gramma.”
Hmmm, I’d never really thought of myself in those terms. That was for someone with a house dress on. (Forgive me if any of you wear house dresses. I remember older women, somewhat heavyset, wearing those unattractive articles of clothing when I was growing up. I don’t DO house dresses. And now would I be relegated to THAT group?)
The next time Sofya visited, Gramma was forgotten and the familiar Baboushka was back in her vocabulary. I breathed a sigh of relief. We would escape the dreaded word yet.
This year Sofya will begin her first year of education at home. It brings back all of the glorious memories of placing curriculum orders and the excitement of materials arriving in the mail. It was like Christmas each year when our books arrived. I remember those years as some of the best of our lives; books, books, books, and the delight of opening the world of learning to my children. What a privilege it is to see Sofya beginning this same journey. A shopping trip for school supplies was just what she and I needed.
We made our plans for a sleepover and the next morning Sofya and I hit Office Max and Walmart with a vengeance; we had important work to do. We found construction paper, pencils, crayons, scissors, even some nice little school dresses….when suddenly in the midst of it all, Sofya exclaimed,
“You’re the best Gramma I ever had!”
My eyes filled. My throat constricted. I held her tight.
“Oh Sofya, I’m going to cry right here in the store!”
And I did. Then, I wiped my eyes, pulled myself together, and rejoiced that I was a Gramma. Because it’s really fine. It’s a fine thing to be a Gramma, especially to a little girl like this. As we finished up our shopping trek and headed for the registers, Sofya humbled me with one more comment,
“I hope I live in America forever!”
You will, Sofya, if this Gramma has anything to say about it. Get those house dresses ready, I’m up for this!
Here I stand, blubbing, as I watch my granddaughter place a ‘fishing pole’ gently over the top of a cardboard wall and watch excitedly to see what she will ‘catch’. It’s a Pollyanna world and I’m falling apart. I’m not gently tearing, wiping a stray bit of wetness from my eye. No! I am actually BLUBBING! Blubbing means that you can’t hold it back. There is nothing attractive about it, you simply BURST! And this is me, on this hot July 4th, in central Arizona, on the town square with all the other revelers, unable to hold it in.
I don’t care. It’s all just too wonderful. I look at Sofia as her mom drapes red, white, and blue beads over her neck. She waves her patriotic fan. It is all excellent. This is so hard to believe and yet I know….it’s true! I am standing here watching my granddaughter enjoy her first Fourth of July in America!
This week will mark the one year anniversary of her arrival. What a year it’s been! Today will be the last holiday of her first year of American holidays. Next week begins her second year in America and she enters it chattering along in English and reading her first words, like any other five year old.
She woke up this morning knowing today was a special day. Her mom’s been teaching her the meaning of Independence Day and she probably knows it better than the average American child. She’s been read the story about the King who demanded too much from his subjects, the colonists who threw tea in the harbor, the war that took place, and the new country that was formed. She read this in a book her mother wrote for her in preparation for this day. Blessed, lovely mother.
When it’s time for the National Anthem and everyone stands with their hands over their heart, there is a little girl standing right along with them.
At the end of the day, as fireworks light up the night sky, I listen to our Portugese friends next to us, Noel and Maks chattering along in Russian, Spanish and English from our native Arizonans, and I look over to see a little girl with face uplifted,
” My eyes can’t believe it!”
No, Sofia, my eyes can’t believe it either. I can’t believe you’re really here! God bless America and God bless this wonderful girl.