I take a lot of photos of my granddaughter Claire, but some moments deserve to be preserved in words and memory only.
This afternoon, I heard Claire fussing just 25 minutes into her nap. I was in the guest room writing, but I knew my daughter Carlene would tend to her. An hour later, I checked to see where everyone was and I found Carlene asleep in the rocking chair in Claire’s nursery as Claire laid asleep in her arms, wrapped in her fuzzy green blanket and her head resting in the crook of Carlene’s left arm. It was a perfectly awesome moment of peace and stillness, but most of all, love.
When I write about Claire, I often mention her mother (my daughter Cassie) or her father (my son-in-law Matt), but Aunt Carlene is probably the third most important person in Claire’s life. It’s been interesting watching my oldest daughter interact with her niece these last 7 months. I’ve not witnessed her interact with anyone the same way before. Carlene is not one for public displays of affection, but that credo flies out the window when Claire is around. She puts seasoned baby-talkers, neck-kissers and peek-a-booers like me to shame.
Carlene has always been forthcoming about her feelings for Cassie and me. The three of us are a tight little enclave and we trust each other explicitly. She loves her grandparents and aunts and uncles, but she’s not as gushy with her love as Cassie and me. She’s not stoic, but she’s an awful lot like her father, even though he died when she was a baby. She’s as much a product of nature as she is nurture.
One way you can really tell Carlene loves her niece is her tolerance of Claire’s bodily functions. Carlene detests puke, snot, pee and poop. When she was little and had the stomach flu, she willed herself not to throw up. Absolutely rejected that idea. She also refused to cough a good hard get-up-the-phlegm cough when she had a cold. I’d beg her to cough and she’d simply say no. And getting her potty trained, well, that’s a whole other story and one I’ll never tell because she’d never speak to me again.
Carlene is more than I ever deserved, and watching her today with her niece in her arms, so soft and tender, I thanked God I did something in my life to warrant such a moment as that.
With my apologies to the Apostle Paul, I’ve rewritten his famous passage on love from his first letter to the Corinthians because, to me, Carlene is the embodiment of what he describes love to be.
"Carlene is patient. Carlene is kind. She (usually) does not envy and she almost never boasts. Carlene is proud in the right way. She’s not rude (except maybe on a really bad PMS day, but she always apologizes). She is not self-seeking, it takes a lot to get her angry, and she’s never thrown something I’ve done wrong back in my face. Carlene does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Carlene always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Carlene’s love never fails.”