When Savannah was born, on October 22, 1994, she was the first born of my grandchildren—and I was thrilled to finally have a little girl in my life.
From my journals, I wrote “October 22, 1994, Saturday – my first grandchild – a GIRL – was born at 11 am this morning. Her name is Savannah Marie…Kelly & Keara went to the hospital last night – but they had so many false alarms – I didn’t try to get to Palmdale til this morning. I got Jim to drive me and we arrive about 5 minutes before the baby was born. (at 11) and I wasn’t allowed in. Sara her sister and Kelly were with her. The baby has been in an incubator since she was born – at first they said she was breathing too fast and they were running tests & implied to Keara that maybe the baby had Down Syndrome or something. The kids have been frightened out of their wits. Linda brought me back to the house (I can’t think anymore). Kelly stayed at the hospital. We’ve gone back and forth so many times.
October 26 1994-Today is Bob’s birthday. Savannah is 4 days old and seems to be doing fine, according to the kids.
From a letter to Bev dated December, 1994 – “…what a year this has been. Most important to us was the recent birth of my first grandchild-a grand DAUGTHER who was born October 22nd. Her name is Savannah Marie Smith; her parents are Kelly & Keara…at one month of age she is up to a little over 8 lbs. We are all smitten, of course, and think she is the greatest thing to come along since sliced bread. Kelly has me amazed; he changes diapers, feeds the baby, does everything for the baby.
Savannah had a hard time getting here and when she was born, had the cord wrapped twice around her neck; they kept her in an incubator the first 24 hours and kept her in the hospital an extra day because she was having some respiratory problems. We all spent some anxious hours while they ran tests and checked her out. She was about 3 weeks early and Keara had a long and hard labor. No doubt she would have had to have a Caesarian if the baby had been full term. The hospital staff said she would have been more like 8½ – 9 lbs. I spent that weekend out at Kelly’s home in Lancaster then went back the following weekend and cooked a small turkey for the kids…”
From a letter to Bev, written in March, 1995, “I am beginning to think it would be more likely that I would move to Lancaster after I retire – to be near my granddaughter. …the baby is smiling and cooing… Keara swears she says “hi”. Well you know doting mothers. She does babble and has a cute smile. Her mother says she isn’t the princess of ALMOST everything, it’s just everything. She sure is going to be daddy’s girl though…Oh, I kept Savannah overnight for the first time a few weeks back. She took a bottle and went to sleep in my bed at 11 pm and slept til 7 am! At 9 am, up pulls Kelly’s truck and they both jump out and dash in. I shushed them at the door – the baby had just gone back to sleep. They were kind of put out, I think, that she slept all night. Said “oh, well, it must be because she was coming down with a cold”. (Don’t they have that backwards?) That baby knew she was in grammy’s bed!..”
So, that was the beginning of my role being Grammy. As time went by, however, I found it next to impossible to get Savannah to warm up to me. Her parents would say “oh, well, it’s because she’s so shy” – but she wasn’t shy with her Nana, Keara’s mother, or a lot of other people. She and I did make cookies together when she was two years old and we bonded best if no one else was around. Still, she remained aloof with me, despite my best efforts, –until her brother was born in 2002.
From my journal dated 2004, I wrote “Christmas Eve day, Kelly & Keara came down early so that they could go visit his dad – Ethan pitched a fit and didn’t want to go—the last time they were down here, Ethan didn’t want to leave and cried most of the way home. so I said …oh, leave him with me & they did. He is grammy’s boy! I think Savannah may be a little put out about it but Keara explained to her that she was always Nana’s girl (Keara’s mother) and didn’t grow close to me until a few years ago. It’s very meaningful to me that at last I have a grandchild who is “all mine”. They left and I put Teletubbies on for Ethan; he patted the couch next to him and said “Sit here with me, grammy” so I did & I burned some of the rice but what the heck.
Savannah was perplexed that Ethan wanted to stay with me instead of going to see his grandpa Jim. She asked her mother why Ethan wanted to stay with me. Keara said “Well, remember how you always wanted to stay with Nana? Now Ethan wants to stay with Grammy” – and quite possibly my granddaughter deduced that maybe she was missing out on something.
That was really when Savannah began warming up to me and by this time there were several other grandchildren and we began doing a Christmas cookie & craft project (as well as Easter cookie craft, Valentine’s Day cookie & craft and Halloween cookie & craft). Even so, I don’t think Savannah and I grew really close until Bob and I moved to the Antelope Valley in 2008. I drove her and a couple girlfriends to and from school several days a week; we began baking cupcakes and cookies—and when she was eight I began teaching her how to play Scrabble. By the time she was 18, she could beat almost anyone at Scrabble – except, maybe, Uncle Steve. After Grandpa Bob passed away in 2011, Savannah spent more and more time at my house. We took our first vacation together in 2007, flying to South Dakota to see Uncle Steve & Aunt Lori; in 2012, we returned to Sioux Falls to spend another week with my son and daughter-in-law but also so Savannah could resume her friendship with a neighbor girl, Elizabeth, with whom Savannah became acquainted in 2007. (Before planning the 2012 vacation, I gave her an option—the trip was to be a graduation present – did she want to go to South Dakota—or would she rather go to Hawaii? She chose South Dakota.
By this time my granddaughter had grown into a beautiful young lady, smart and pretty, warm and friendly; she had a host of boy and girl friends throughout the 4 years of high school. Sometimes we went clothes shopping and sometimes we went to the Barnes & Noble bookstore. These past two years, she’s had her driver’s license so she began chauffeuring me to and from some of my doctor or other medical related appointments.
As I type these words, she is with her father and mother, brother, and Auntie Sara, who are accompanying her to Sacramento, where she has an apartment waiting along with a new roommate-they left here this morning, a caravan – Savannah and her mother in Savannah’s car, her father and brother in her father’s pickup truck (loaded with a washer and dryer for the two girls) and her aunt driving her SUV. I doubt that I will see her until April, on spring break.
She came by this morning to say goodbye and tell me she loved me. I waited until she left to shed the tears I have been holding back for the past few days. Three months seems so far away – just as the three months leading up to this very day seemed a long way off.
SAVANNAH IS HER NAME
Isn’t it amazing how fast by the years have flown,
From infancy to woman, just look how much you’ve grown;
From a little girl in pigtails who was learning how to read,
From toddler to teenager, we’ve watched you take the lead.
You were always Grandpa’s favorite, and he called you “Littlebit”
Because he knew you’d be outstanding in whatever life that fit –
I know he’d be proud of you, in whatever curves life throws you,
And would say it’s been a pleasure just for him to know and love you;
And I feel the very same way, as we watched your life unfold—
If you’d been a gymnast, you would always take the gold,
But where ever life may lead you, whether here or far away,
Remember that I love you, far more than I can ever say.
My girl is going to college—life won’t ever be the same–
Watch out world, she’s coming and Savannah is her name.
–Sandra Lee Smith (AKA GRAMMY), January 3, 2014