Yesterday I drove to Fort Collins to spend time with my granddaughter, Katie.  I was really up for the day with her, since I haven’t seen her since she returned to CSU for her sophomore year.  She has her own condo now……….she is so responsible and capable!

It was an incredible fall day.  So many chrysanthemums proudly displaying their earthy tones; gold, burgundy and deep pink, so beautiful.  The leaves have just begun to change.  Maple leaves are barely edged in red but the aspen are golden already.  Burning bush blazing crimson like the fire it’s named for.  I love autumn more than any other season.   Nothing is as beautiful as autumn in New England, but Colorado is a close second.

I got in my little red car, turned on the country music station, put all the windows down and opened the sunroof to the sky.  A deep powder blue, devoid of clouds, the sky was as crystal clear as a mountain lake.  I remembered how much I always loved loud music, a warm sunny day, a fast car.  I enjoyed the same mood as if I was still sixteen, and I was grateful.  The Rockies with snow patches still clinging to rock, the last vestiges of a winter long passed.  As I drove to the top of a hill on route 25, the ground on both sides of the highway was covered with a patchwork quilt; some green, some brown, some yellow, as crops had already been harvested and some irrigated sections held the verdant grass.  All so lovely.

I met Katie at the barn.  She is almost twenty and I wonder where the years have gone.  She is lovely; honey colored, shoulder length hair, green eyes and curvaceous little body.  She is tiny, four feet ten, feisty, smart, compassionate, adventuresome.  If I could have dreamed of the perfect girl, I couldn’t have come up with anything to compare with Katie.

She doesn’t know that I’m thinking of how beautiful she is in her little tank tops and riding pants.  Her skin is like velvet, smooth and supple; her hair falls soft upon her shoulder and shines beautifully in the light.  Katie doesn’t know she’s beautiful, and I don’t think she really cares.  She is her own person, part lady, part cowgirl, an incredible combination of adventure and romance.

I think about the almost twenty years that she has blessed my life.  I remember the day her mother, my daughter Kim, handed me a book she’d bought for me entitled, “Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother.”  It took me a few minutes for me to realize what she was telling me and then I exploded with joy!

I remember waiting for her to be born with her grandfather, my ex-husband.  That day, we were parents and soon to be grandparents, worried about our daughter and excited at the thought of having a granddaughter to love. We enjoyed our closeness that day.  We were thrilled when we heard her first cries from down the hall.

I remember an Easter Sunday brunch and the bunny ears I bought for her.  She wouldn’t wear them so I did, and we were all entertained.  I remember putting her in a carrier on my back and cross-country skiing in the snowy woods.  I remember camping with her in Estes Park, and she didn’t fall asleep until five in the morning.  And, when we took Katie and her cousin J.C. rafting on the Colorado River.  And, of course, all the shopping…….

I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Katie grow from a darling baby into such a lovely young woman.  I saw her struggle with bratty girls and difficult academics, teeth too big for her face, braces, boyfriends and the wrong major in college.  I wouldn’t change a single thing, but now it hurts my heart when I know that she worries about me.  She is careful not to appear frightened, but I know her well.  I’m sure that at the top of her list of concerns is how long I’m going to be around.  What bothers me most about that is that I do not want to ever cause her a moment of pain.  I want to put her in soft fleece and ward off anything that might hurt her.   But, just as I couldn’t keep her mom from sadness and disappointment, I know that for Katie to live her life, pain is a part of it.  Pain teaches us resilience, gives us the strength to weather the inevitable storms.

And so, tonight I am aware of my good fortune in having her.  We are both blessed to have had so many years together and for however much more time we have, we’ll both be grateful.  Of that, I am sure.  I look forward to our journey together with our family in Mexico in December and whatever good times God has in store for us in the coming year.  Gratitude is what I’m feeling; I’m a lucky woman.