Finding Love, Identity In Arizona

I really, really, really, really, really, really love you.

My grandson turns 13 next month.

I just turned 50 and my oldest grandchild will be a teenager.

Hard to believe, I know. Nearly 13 years ago my daughter gave birth to a premature baby boy. He was so little. Even then, he showed how tough and loving he could be.

*

My husband found her on the floor.

When the paramedics arrived, her blood sugar was 26. Some blood had splattered on the wall. The heat of the July summer permeated the room.

I had just seen her the day before having dropped her off after a double shift at work. I told her I’d pick her up after church to take her to work. Her car died in front of our house, so we were her only mode of transportation.

Sure she could take the bus, but I was her mom. She was seven months pregnant and a Type 1 diabetic. I wasn’t about to let her stand in the hot sun to take the bus.

No answer at the door. Something wasn’t right.

No answer on her phone. Something wasn’t right.

No, she wasn’t at work. Something wasn’t right.

I prayed. I had others pray. My husband, who was at church still, would stop by on the way home. Instead he grabbed our tube of frosting at home – just in case she was crashed and he couldn’t find the glucose kit – and proceeded to her apartment.

He found her on the floor.

It was a whirlwind after that. With two kids still at home, I needed some backup. My husband rode in the ambulance with her and I arrived later. She was in a coma, but both she and the baby were still alive.

People all over the country – and maybe even the world – were praying. There is a comfort in the midst of heartache and stress and chaos, knowing that others are praying for you and your family.

After what felt like forever, she woke up, delusional and in pain. The pain of labor had begun.There had to be at least twenty people in the room. Doctors, nurses, techs and the flight medics.

He was born and then he left. Taken to another hospital’s NICU, my grandson had arrived.

*

Where we come from is vital to our identity. No matter where we go or where we find ourselves, family, culture, experiences all shape who we are on the inside. 

Oh sure, if our family/culture/experiences were bad, we can run away from it as best we can. We can try to shed its very existence in our past. For better or worse, it remains. 

Our choices in the here and now are shaped by it all. 

But what if some information is missing? What if you don’t know all of your family? What if there is a part that you have questions about? 

For my grandson, a trip to Arizona was necessary. 

He’s met my family once before. Many, many moons ago. When he was little and cute – well, he’s still cute! He has no memories of that time. In my mind, he needed to know more. 

Off to Arizona we went last week. My wonderful family made sure the trip was memorable. 

Museums, explorations, Mexican food (of course – Carolina’s tortillas), swimming, family and fun. We even did an impromptu birthday party for him. 

He got to know his great-grandparents (at least one of them, he did), tias, tios, cousins he never knew he had. It was almost everything I had hoped for on the trip and more. Two memories stood out. 

*

If nothing else, my grandson found a piece of himself down in Arizona.

When I was about 10 (?), I, along with my sisters and brother all took a family photo to give to my parents. Separately, of course, since they were divorced. My mother has this picture, along with another one we did 10 years later, on a shelf in her home.

It’s front and center. It can’t be missed. I have this ugly maroon turtleneck on with some flowery skirt – ain’t no way I’d wear something like that today – posing on the floor with my legs draped to the side and a huge smile.

“That looks like me!”

His words penetrated my soul.

My grandson saw himself in that photo of me with my siblings. He saw himself in me!!!!

From the little boy fighting for his very life 13 years ago to this young man discovering a part of himself in me. Keeping my emotions in check – can’t show TOO much, Nana – I was filled with love. 

If nothing else, my grandson found a piece of himself down in Arizona. A connection, a bond with a side he never knew. Now, it is up to him. He will have to decide what to do with this knowledge and who he wants to be.

He will always carry a part of me, a part of Arizona, with him throughout his life. It’s in his DNA. 

*

I really, really, really, really, really, really love you.

His words pierced my soul. His eyes swelled with tears. I felt as if I was saying goodbye. 

I don’t write or talk much about my dad. Recently, I gave a glimpse in “Don’t Let the Pain Win“. There’s much more to it than what I’ve shared. As a private person, I tend to protect my family, both my own family (kids, grandkids) and extended (parents, siblings, etc). So no additional stories right now. 

On occasion, however, I will share some when I feel it is necessary to the story. 

My grandson had never met my dad. I spoke with him ahead of time to let him know my father’s current state: 89 years old with hearing loss and slower understanding abilities. He doesn’t have Alzheimers or anything like that, but he’s not who he once was. 

I kneeled before him. I stared into his eyes while my grandson was in the other room. No way did I want him to see my father like this, but I did want him to hear it. I am part of his DNA after all. 

My father looked into my eyes and said, “I really, really, really, really, really, really love you.” Multiple times. Each time, I said “I love you too”. After about the third time, I added, “And God loves you too!” 

God is part of my DNA. My father is part of my DNA. My grandson needed to hear those words from my mouth, blessing my earthly father, with words from my heavenly father. 

I really, really, really, really, really, really love you.

I love you too, Dad. And God loves you too. Very, very, very much.

I love my grandson. I mean, I really, really, really, really, really, really love my grandson! 

There is a reason he was born upon this earth. He may not have arrived in the best of circumstances, but he is very much alive for a purpose. I will do my best to help him discover that, discover his identity. 

No matter what path he chooses, he will know where he came from, his family, his culture. 

Why?

Because I really, really, really, really, really, really love him.

***

Knees Down, Prayers Up

Sunny