God has granted us two wonderful grandchildren and our only granddaughter turned 16 yesterday. Though our grandchildren have spent most of their lives in another state, we have been blessed with having them spend extended periods with us without their parents.
Kathryn has been with us from 5 weeks to 15 months at a time since she was about 6 months old. This time together has forged a very special bond between Kathryn and myself. She fills my heart with music as I watch her dance and sing. I love to watch her early in the morning, clad in one of Opa's big shirts that she uses for sleeping, as she sits atop the old cellar and quietly sings as she watches and tries to identify the different birds and greets the rising sun. Her walks in the woods and fields are filled with her singing and always result in a small bouquet of flowers for Oma. As a toddler her laughing blue hazel eyes and bouncing dark brown curls would melt my heart as she came into the kitchen with her first word of the day --"Eat!".
Kathryn is my joy and I thank God for every minute I have had with her. When she returns to her parents, thinking of her brings tears of loneliness to my eyes and an ache in my heart, even though she calls me nearly every day as she walks home from school. I want to protect her from every sadness in her life, I want to hold her through every tear that she sheds, I want to pick her up each time she stumbles on her path to adulthood.
Yesterday, Kathryn turned 16 and those bouncing curls and laughing eyes of the toddler have become the beauty and mystery of an alluring young woman. My influence and values are very strong in her personality, even as she sometimes rebels against them. My hope for her is that she will always be in charge of her own destiny by trusting, believing and respecting herself and filling her world with compassion and love.