I know our fan club members just heard from us yesterday, but I wanted everyone else to know how much I appreciated all your birthday greetings and your get-well wishes over the past few days.
I had a wonderful birthday, and I’m feeling much better as well.
Of course, if you had gotten to share your birthday with a little four-year old girl from China, you would probably be feeling better, too!
It was both heartwarming and yet a little sad at the same time. Sophie, as we call her, is my adopted granddaughter, and she turns four this week. Actually, the Chinese authorities told us she was born “either on November 4th or November 5th.” They don’t know exactly when it was because she was found abandoned by the side of the road a couple of days later. Their best guess was that she was born on the 5th.
Regardless, we decided that her birthday is close enough to mine (Nov. 1st) for us to begin a new family tradition of celebrating our special days together. So, for the first time, that’s what we did this year.
Everybody gathered at her house (my son, Jamey and his wife, Beth’s, house actually), and we picnic’d on meatballs, ham and biscuits, chips and dip, fresh fruit, and birthday cake. The minute I walked in the door Sophie came running into my arms grinning and yelling, “Paw Paw…Paw Paw!! Let’s play horsey!”
So her aged grandfather took this little smiling ball of energy upstairs, placed her gently on his lap, and for what seemed like the better part of a week bounced her on his knee and sang, “Giddy-up horsey….ride to town….look out horsey or Sophie fall down!” And then I’d collapse my legs and she would squeal and fall back against the tops of my boots. I’d put her back up and we’d start all over again.
When you’re four years old and someone else is doing all the work, I’m sure you wouldn’t care if this game went on forever. As for me, the sound of Beth’s announcing that the food was ready was like a symphony to my ears.
We ate, and at some point Sophie realized that the presents wrapped in pink belonged to her. She tore into them with a vengeance, mumbling a soft, “thank you,” after opening each one then rapidly moving to the next. I had to pry a new doll from each hand and remove a pink feather boa from around her neck in order to get her to help me cut “our” birthday cake. She kept repeating, “birthday cake….birthday cake” but she never quite got the hang of blowing out the candles.
Two of my three children and all eight of my grandchildren were there, and it was a special moment in time. My daughter, Jenni, was home helping her husband, Chuck, get settled in after his having spent more than a month in the hospital. His being home and on the road to recovery may well have been the best birthday present of all.
But then maybe that’s because nobody offered to take me up on their knee and play “horsey!”
All I know is she’s one of the most special little children I have ever been around. Her smile would light up the darkest room on the planet. And she’s SO smart. She loves her PawPaw and runs for me the minute I walk in the door.