Given that we live in the US and our granddaughters live in the UK, we prize any time that we have together.
Our five-year-old granddaughter ABC lived with us and her mom until she was a bit over two years old. Then, E’s spousal visa came through and they joined their spouse-and-dad in London. We made our first trip “across the pond” a couple of months later, hoping to return again in the spring, but that was 2020 and the pandemic struck, so, no.
We missed the birth and whole first year of granddaughter JG’s life. We met her first on a bittersweet trip here so that E could have a last visit with her grandfather Paco. We will always be grateful that Paco was able to meet JG and that ABC, who remembered him from living here when she was a baby/toddler, was able to see him and dance and sing for him. E was Paco’s first grandchild and it was so important that she got to see him one last time. I’m crying now just thinking about it. It was just after that visit that Paco began his last, steep decline and he died a few weeks later.
That visit had been very confusing for JG. As a pandemic baby, she hadn’t been out of her house very much, much less flown across an ocean and plunked down in a new country with new people. She was also at a developmental time of stranger anxiety, so we had to be careful not to intrude on her comfort zone.
Without having to care for Paco, we were able to make a couple of trips to the UK (although they happened to be during omicron surges); still, JG was not too sure about these people who occasionally appeared on her mom’s computer screen suddenly showing up.
Enter 2023. JG is now almost 2 and a half and having a surge in language development and is able to make connections that she had been too young to make previously. She starts calling us by name when we video chat and wanting to say hi and showing us things. When we went to visit earlier this month, she gave us hugs and played with us and let us pick her up and called us by name and stayed with us at our Airbnb while her mom and dad did errands and snuggled and fell asleep cuddled on the couch.
For the first time, she knew we were her grandparents, her mom’s mom and dad. Correction: her mum‘s parents, as mom is the more common American expression and she is, of course, adopting the more British mum.
What a prize! I had been afraid that JG wouldn’t really remember us because we are so far away and that occasional visits wouldn’t be enough to establish a real relationship with her as we have enjoyed with her sister ABC.
Transatlantic grandparenting will still be challenging. I don’t have personal experience with such a long distance between grandparents and grandchild, but I think we’ll figure it out.
We are hopeful that E and her family will be here in April for Easter, JG’s first trip back since she came to meet Paco just after she turned one. I don’t think she will remember having been here, although ABC will probably still remember every nook and cranny of our house and yard, as she did when they came back to see Paco a year and a half ago.
It was a week ago that we said our good-byes to fly back to the States. Anticipating a visit from them in just a few weeks made it easier to leave them. Although JG won’t remember the house, she will remember us.
What a comfort!
What a prize!
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “prize,” which I sneakily used to write the post I needed to write this weekend. Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2023/02/24/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-25-2023/.