Thursday, April 30, 2009
My second chance
I grew up with two grandparents. My mom's mom (Grandma) and my dad's dad (Pop). They lived in Indiana and we lived in Florida so I usually only saw them once a year. When my sisters and I were younger, my parents would get us up in the middle of the night to begin the long drive up north (it gave them a few hours of peace and quiet). I loved going at Christmas because that meant snow. My sisters and I would build snowmen together and have snowball fights. We spent as much time outside as we could because it never snowed in Florida. We'd stay at Grandma's house and Pop would always come over and visit with us. I used to think Grandma and Pop should get married since they were both single and lived alone. I know now, Grandma would have killed him. They were polar opposites.
Grandma and I had a special bond. My parents lost their eight year old son when he was hit by a teenage driver while walking home from a friend's house. My grandfather had a weak heart already and losing his only grandson was more than he could take. My mom lost her son and father. Grandma lost her grandson and husband. Knowing they couldn't replace their son but wanting another child, my parents decided to adopt a baby. They got me. My mom has told me that I saved Grandma's life. She was near to having a nervous breakdown after her losses. She looked pretty rough the first time she saw me. After that first visit, we were inseparable. Well, as much as we could be living in different states. When we visited her, I slept in her bed snuggled up next to her. When she visited us, she'd stay in my room with me on a cot. We'd drive my mom crazy talking late into the night. I was only in elementary school but apparently had a lot to talk about. As my sisters grew older, my mom and I would fly to Indiana to visit. When I was in junior high Grandma developed Alzheimer's and moved in with us. I spent as much time with her as I could. Then Pop moved in as well when I was in 9th grade. I loved spending time with both of them after school and on the weekends. Eventually, Grandma had to be moved to a nursing home. I'd visit her after school sometimes but it was heart wrenching. I'd have to keep reminding her who I was. I knew she wouldn't make it to see me get married but I just wanted her to see me graduate from high school. She passed away a month before graduation. I was devastated. I'd lost other relatives but I was younger, they were older, and I didn't know them as well. I still miss her greatly. Pop survived long enough to see my two oldest children. I remember the last time I saw him. He gave me a hug and told me he loved me, almost like he knew it would be the last time I'd see him.
A year ago, I got a second chance at having grandparents. No one can ever replace Grandma and Pop, but I am able to get to know the people who are my flesh and blood. My biological mom called her dad and told her that I'd found her. He asked if she was happy. When she replied that she was, he told her then he was happy, too. I remember my first phone conversation with PaPaw. I was in the parking lot at Publix the kids restless in the backseat. It was awkward at first but soon with both began telling stories and getting to know each other. I still have the envelope where I'd written down bits and pieces of our conversation that I didn't want to forget. It was difficult to learn that his wife, my Nanny, had Alzheimer's. Not again, I thought. I've seen Nanny a few times and she stares at me with a big smile on her face. My kids believe she thinks I'm funny looking. I believe she thinks I'm my bio mom. I've visited PaPaw several times since our first meeting and we get along great. While my birth wasn't under the best of circumstances, he loves me just as he loves his other grandkids.
I'm also getting to know my biological dad's parents. They are a cute little couple and I quickly discovered that my overly tall kids didn't get their height from my side of the family. Our first meeting was awkward but went well. They gave me a hug when they walked in and I shared my baby book with them so they could see what a cute kid I was. Like the rest of the family, they have welcomed me with open arms. We are getting to know each other through emails and family get togethers.
Most people don't get second chances in their lives. I sometimes wonder what made me so special that I did. Grandma and Pop will always be in my heart but for now, I'm able to spend time with PaPaw, Nanny, Grammy, and Poppa. They are my second chance.