Today my heart fills full, brimming over the top with affection. I once heard that a child’s name sounds sweetest when rolling off the tongue of the mother. However, I take this thought a bit further. When a grandmother talks of her grandchildren, the spoken name has pride, affection, and admiration in one word.
Yesterday marked the final day of my gift to my granddaughter, Cavanaugh, for her fifth birthday. She had dreams of taking ballet class, but with her parent’s work schedules, it was next to impossible. My gift to her was a year’s worth of taxi service to her dance class. I will never forget her expression as her arms squeezed my neck. I was smothered in kisses, and “Thank you, Grammie!”
From September through May, my Wednesday afternoon and evening was reserved for Cavanaugh Anne Rottinghaus. I’m not sure which of us was more excited, Cavanaugh or me. Her Kindergarten teacher told me how she squealed all Wednesday in anticipation of her Grammie picking her up. I cleared my calendar so nothing interfered with our time together.
The weekly ritual of helping her into her tights and leotards made us both giggle. She loved it as I tugged and lifted her off her feet as she wriggled into the snug spandex. We both knew she could change clothes herself, but we relished our comedic antics.
Snacks were a big part of our Wednesday afternoons. Many days I stopped at a local store and allowed her to choose a snack. Fruit snacks or fruit roll ups were her favorite choice. Some days she chose a gooey chocolate cupcake with sticky white frosting and pink coconut. Other days it would be a fruit pie with a bottle of frosty milk. The feel of her tiny, soft hand in mine as we skipped past parked cars in the lot will be tucked in the recesses of my soul.
On occasion I would pack her favorite ‘Grammie’s house’ treat: pecans, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, dried blueberries, raisins and cranberries. My splurge was a skinny French vanilla latte, as much for the taste, as for the caffeine to ensure I stayed alert until me and my car were safely home that evening.
Once we arrived at class, I had forty-five minutes of me time. I worked on computer projects, but mostly I got acquainted with others waiting for their little darlings. Every fifteen minutes Cavanaugh raced through the double doors to change her shoes for the next style of dance. The forty-five minute class taught the basic skills in ballet, tap and jazz. I knew she could change her own shoes, but I just enjoyed the process, and so did she.
Our forty minute commute to her home after dance class was the time of asking me questions concerning God, Jesus or anything on her five year old mind. She often sang softly, her heart singing what she was feeling. Most days it was about her love of God, her family and beloved animals. The radio remained off so I could inhale the sweetness of a child. I was amazed at her voice, the clear tones and melodic rhythms she could produce. Some days she felt like spelling words and we played games of phonics all the way. My heart swelled with love for this little creation of God.
In January, Cavanaugh changed schools and attended the same school her older brother, Kile. Wednesday afternoon soon included Cavanaugh and Kile. While Cavanaugh danced, Kile and I had precious one on one time. We played a word game, Hang Man, and often times he stumped me. That made him grin with delight. He loved the dice game, Yatzhtee. I carried the five dice and cup in my purse and we rolled the game. Before long, the siblings of others in Cavanaugh’s dance class began joining in the fun. We sat on the floor, talking, and playing the game. When the little girls were finished with their lessons, everyone returned home with smiles, most of all me.
The final weeks of May, 2012, were dress rehearsal at the studio, pictures, and final dress rehearsal at the Center for Performing Arts. Because of Trela and Eric’s hectic work schedules, I happily took Cavanaugh for dress rehearsal and photos at the studio. I was a bit squeamish applying makeup to the flawless skin of a six year old, but knew the bright lights on stage would wash out her complexion. With great care, I painted the elfin face of my beautiful grandchild. The look in her eyes let me know how special she felt at that moment.
|Cavanaugh and Carly|
May 19 was the big day at Gallagher BlueDorn at the University of Northern Iowa campus. I attended the one o’clock show with Carly Kies, my niece. After a two and half hour performance by countless talented dancers, our time of dance class was over. It is a time in her life that I will always treasure, the moments of joy we shared. Happy Birthday, Cavanaugh. I sure loved giving you this present.