Between chattering and playing with a two-year-old and helping my daughter and son-in-love as they adjust to life with a newborn, I enter into a moment of quiet.
My grandson has gone off with his dad for an adventure. Ivy, my granddaughter, is sleeping skin-to-skin on her mother’s chest as her mother tries to rest too.
“The midwife says you should try to get a minimum of an hour a day of skin-to-skin contact with a newborn,” my daughter tells me.
I smile and breathe into the wisdom of midwifery and skin-to-skin contact.
My granddaughter Ivy was born on Friday, June 26th. On Sunday, I drove the 1,000 kilometres to the coast to be with my daughter and her family for a couple of weeks. In these days of Covid, flying feels too risky.
I feel so incredibly blessed. So grateful to be here. To be with them as they navigate this new territory. As my daughter exclaimed on Monday afternoon, looking at her husband and son who surrounded her and the infant Ivy on their bed, “We’ve got two children! We’re a family of four!”
I smiled at both the surprise in her voice and the delight.
Along with fidelity and faithfulness, Ivy means, “God’s Gift.”
Ivy is a gift. Ivy, my granddaughter, is named after my grandmother. My two aunts, one in her late 80s the other in her early 90s are both ‘over the moon’ with gratitude and delight.
Auntie Eveline phones early in the morning from France to express her pleasure. Aunti Maggie phones from Pondicherry, India where she lives. It is the same city where she and my mother and their 8 siblings were born and raised.
“Thank you so much for bringing our mother back to us,” Auntie Maggie says. “Thank you for giving her our mother’s name.”
“We didn’t choose the name,” Alexis, my eldest daughter says. “Ivy did. Before she was born.”
Alexis was very connected to my mother and her Euro-Asian lineage. She always asked her for stories of her past. To share with her tales of long ago days in Pondicherry, a place my mother called her ‘Shangri-la.”
It is as if those stories are imprinted within the DNA of this tiny infant. As if, India, the land of sacred cows wandering crooked streets and incense wafting in smoky tendrils into the sky and monks chanting and moonlight shimmering over the Ganges and waves of the Indian Ocean crashing into the shores of Pondicherry, has come alive with her birth.
I am, like my aunts, over the moon. Delighted. Ecstatic.
And my grandson comes in, looks deeply into my eyes, turns and looks into his mother’s and looks back at me. “You have mama’s eyes,” he says and my heart flutters as gracefully as a butterfly drifting on a warm ocean breeze redolent of frangipani and sandalwood and the smell of spicy curry wafting up from a street vendor’s stall.
I breathe and say a prayer of gratitude for this moment. For these days of holding a tiny infant in my arms and feeling the threads of history weaving their magic through time and space.
I give thanks for the laughter of a two-year-old who delights in YiaYa’s French Toast (said with an over-indulgent French accent) and who insists the meat on his plate is not le poulet as YiaYa tries to tell him. It is chicken. And who then smiles so beguilingly my heart flutters again and I am lifted off on a flight of fancy, spinning tales of race cars spinning their tires and pandas who like to spin tales like the Walrus of Lewis Carroll‘s lore and talk of many things…
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot — and whether pigs have wings.
I breathe and give thanks for the strong, resilient women who are my ancestors, the story-tellers and story-makers and story-keepers of this web of love that is our family circle. Flung wide across this globe, we are connected in a circle spun as tight as ivy weaving a lush green blanket of leaves along the path of history meandering its way through time, leading me to this moment where I sit and hold my infant granddaughter and am surrounded by love.
These are the days my friends. These are the days.