Helping a daughter-in-law at church

Part 3 - Days in the life of a grandpa

Helping a daughter-in-law at church

It was two days later that things started really getting busy. Here are my recollections of some of the next week's moments....

Our youngest son Mark is a newly-graduated police officer. With his cycle of 12 hour shifts, he is not available on Sunday mornings for five weeks out of every eight. He is either working day shifts or sleeping because of working night shifts.

On the three consecutive Sundays that he is available, he brings his family to the church where we attend together.

On the other five Sundays, Beth and I meet our daughter-in-law Serena at the church and help her with the three children (if Mark is sleeping at home and their van is available), or we offer to pick her up if Mark is actually at work. So last week, on Sunday, Beth and I drove both our cars over to pick them up. We can't all fit in one car. I loaded up Henry (4) and Isaiah (2) into car seats in our old Honda, and Beth and Serena put Abigail's car seat into our Mazda.

I got to the church first with the boys and hurried inside to reserve a row so we could sit together. I usually use my sweater and a few church bulletins to save the extra seats for the rest who are still coming.

When we are all there, I usually get to put Abigail's baby seat on two chairs right beside me. I leave her strapped in at first, and she looks around quite contently and waves her feet in the air. She usually grins at whoever is sitting in the row behind us - especially if they notice her and smile at her.

I help with the boys at first. Isaiah is at a squirmy stage. Sometimes I can pick up him or Henry and hold them in my arms while we stand and sing. Once they have settled in beside their mom, with Grandma beside me helping to watch them, they sit quieter.

Then I get to turn my attention to my adorable little granddaughter. Abigail just had her first birthday. She is not walking yet, but she crawls now - with a peculiar method of advancing with one knee down and the other leg bent in front of her. She looks like a little crab scurrying across the floor. It works for her.

I love to hold her in my arms. She snuggles in against my chest, and seems to love to hear the music as we all sing and worship. She lasts usually for about half of the service. As the sermon starts she usually is starting to get tired and fussy.

I have explained to Mark and Serena that it is a privilege and joy for me to get to be the one who takes her out if her fussing becomes a distraction. I am happy to walk with her at the back of the church. They are happy to have a break from what is their responsibility all the rest of the time when Grandpa is not there.

So they get to sit and enjoy the rest of the service.

I get to hear most of the sermon anyway, as I wander around in the back of the church with my precious granddaughter snuggled in my arms. She loves to point to pictures or posters on the wall. Sometimes if she really has extra energy to burn, I sit down on the floor and let her crawl around a bit. When she seems restless and tired, I sometimes walk out the back door, and onto the entrance patio.

I ask her is she would like to hear "the special song that Grandpa made up for you - just because I love you so much". She looks at me with a look that I know in my heart means, "Yes, of course, please sing to me, Grandpa."

I have made up a special song for most of my grandchildren, with thoughts about the meaning of their name - sometimes little stories of favorite things we do together - and reminders of how much I love them.

I have two more songs I need to work on. Cousins Joseph (6) and Evie (7 months) are waiting. Amanda often asks me, "Grandpa, have you made up Evie's song yet?" When I tell her, "Not yet!" she sighs and smiles patiently at me. "Grandpa, you really should do it soon!" I remind her it is a big job to make up a song, and she is willing to be patient with me for her baby sister's song.

But Henry and Isaiah and Abigail each have their own special song.

So Abigail snuggles in even closer to my chest and I sing her special song to her. Sometimes I offer to sing her a few more songs - special songs I sing to most of my grandchildren. She smiles or snuggles in close to say yes.

We play a little game - I whisper to her, "The wind's going to blow!" She looks up and grins. I give a little puff onto the top of her head, and she feels her hair wave. She grins and waits for it to happen again. The wind blows several times in our game. Her little grin is priceless.

Another little game we sometimes play while we are still sitting in church in when I kiss her forehead several times fast. She grins and lowers her head toward me for another few kisses. When she feels them she pulls back to grin up at me, then lowers her head for more. I sometimes feel a little bang when she lowers her head into my chest too quickly. She hasn't ever hurt herself though - and always comes up grinning.

That Sunday just over a week ago, Beth and I realized that our daughter-in-law's birthday was the next day. We decided to take her out for lunch after church.

After church I whispered to Serena that Mom and I had a surprise. "We would like to take you out for lunch to celebrate your birthday!" I could tell by her shy smile how pleased she was. We went to a nearby restaurant where we have enjoyed lunch a few times with her and Mark and the children. Only this time Mark couldn't be there because of work. But it was nice to sit together for a while and enjoy the delicious chicken this restaurant specializes in, before dropping off her and the children at home.

Beth had to be home by 2:30 that Sunday - a friend who is fighting cancer was coming to visit.

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