Jan 4, 2017


When granddaughter Fiona was born in August 2009, you should have seen the look of pride and joy on my Laura's face! Although she had never once mentioned to me that she hoped to have a grandchild after Michael and Catherine were married, it was an unspoken desire.
There are pictures of her holding little baby Fiona at the hospital with Laura beaming with a Cheshire Cat grin and a look of pure, unadulterated contentment. She was an even better steward of Fiona since Laura had long since raised her two to adulthood, and the experience level she had achieved was superior.
As Fiona grew into a toddler, MaLa (Grandma Laura) was always anxious to keep her, helping her to navigate some of her first steps at Fort Reid. She played all the baby games like patty cake, hide and reveal, funny faces, etc. She ooohed and awwwed whenever Fiona would discover something new and show it to MaLa. She played in the floor, on the bed, on the coffee table - wherever Fiona would wander to, always with MaLa in tow. She would turn on the music channel on TV and they would dance and laugh and laugh and dance for awhile, and then rest for a while. Fiona would turn her attention to me and I would then ride her piggyback on my shoulders and then she would ride horsey on granddaddy's back. Then I would rest for a while, handing her back off to Laura. Then, Fiona started talking.
First words she said to me were "want dat" - pointing to one of her small toys. MaLa lost it when she heard these words. "Did you hear that?" she asked. "Yes babe. I did. She's talking now".
Time seemed to fly after that. We would get Fiona about every third weekend for awhile, alternating between her "Gan and Dadoo" Peggy and Roger and home, with the occasional stay at Uncle "Ry Ry and Aunt Chachi's" house. This was one, happy and well-rounded child!

Each summer Laura would take Fiona swimming every chance that she got. Whenever possible, Laura and Fiona would jump in the truck and take the ride to the Y, or to Peggy and Roger's pool, or to the country club, or to Martha's "Cow Palace" with their bathing suits and towels, noodles and goggles and a picnic lunch. I have pictures of the numerous times that they went swimming together, Fiona always in the pool up front and MaLa right behind her. Fiona learned to swim at the Y, but I like to believe that MaLa played a very large role in teaching that girl to swim like a fish and to not fear the water. Our friend Sue Summer saw them at the pool one day and recently wrote me a line about it. ". Laura and Fiona were a joy to watch together. When she was teaching her to swim, I was in the pool with my folks--and Laura's love and patience were evident in every word.". I love looking at these pictures now. Before, I would look at Fiona and smile. Now that I look closer, I can see the care and tenderness in Laura's eyes when she's looking at her granddaughter. She adored that child!
After Laura passed, Fiona was at the house and we had to go to town. I decided to take Laura's truck. Fiona got in the backseat, as usual, and asked "Granddaddy - what will you do with MaLa's truck?" "I don't know", I answered. "Guess I'll sell it". "You cannot sell MaLa's truck! How will I go swimming?"
On second thought, I'm keeping the truck.

In 2015, son Michael had an opportunity to move to Houston, TX for work. Fiona and Catherine stayed in SC a few more months, giving us the opportunity to spend more time with Fiona.
On her last day in SC, I picked her up and we visited Fort Reid for awhile, then went for a frosty at Wendy's. I then took her to Laura's workplace. Laura hugged her very tightly and reminded Fiona to write as many letters from Texas as possible. When I dropped Fiona off with her mom that day, I went home and cried like a baby. After Laura got home from work, her exact words to me were "when you and Fiona left, I went outside and cried like a baby". I wasn't a bit surprised.
Fast forward one year. Michael receives a better opportunity back in good old SC and takes advantage of it. Laura and I were ecstatic! Our son and his family were coming home - to stay! Michael flew me out to Houston to help with the move. After picking me up at the airport and showing me around Houston and Galveston, we left for their apartment in Kingwood. As soon as I walked in the door, Fiona was hiding under the covers on a chair. I walked to her room, calling her name. Then I walked around the apartment calling her name. She jumped out from under the cover to scare me, but then jumped into my arms and held me tight! Later that evening, I called Laura and told her what had happened when I arrived at the apartment. "Get my children home soon and safe!" was her reply.
After settling in to their new home in Columbia, Fiona continued to visit us and we would visit with her. I had not seen Laura so happy as when Fiona was back home and visiting with us. Time and again she would thank me for "bringing her kids home safe".
My memories of Laura and Fiona mostly revolve around cooking. Each and every time that Fiona would visit, Laura would take her to the kitchen, pull up Fiona's step stool and proceed with the baking of cakes, cupcakes, fudge and other delicious desserts. Usually, a birthday cake was made because Fiona loves birthdays! I can't tell you how many birthdays that her two bears (Mr Bear and Buddy Bear) have celebrated with party hats, balloons, decorations and a birthday cakes! My birthday would only come around once a year, but those bears had one almost every other month. I guess stuffed bears age differently.
Since she was two years old, Laura would help her hold the hand mixer to mix up the batter and then let her lick the spoon and the bowl. Happy times! I was so glad that I took video of some of these shared baking times that Laura had with the apple of her eye. Fiona will see these one day and, hopefully, those memories will come flooding back.
There's so much more that I could write about the love that Laura had for that child. I'll have to leave that for another time. Or maybe I'll sit down with Fiona one day, holding her children on my lap and tell them about MaLa. We can look at photos and watch video and remember just what a very, very special grandmother Fiona was so fortunate to have...if only for awhile.

No comments: