It is astonishing how quickly I am putting plans in place once the word hurricane is announced. Greg pleads that it is much to early to pack up and head west, but the tug to see our grandson pulls from deep inside of me. It has been 6 weeks since we’ve witnessed his growth. At 18 months, changes come weekly, and this hurricane is my excuse to see him.
As I prepare the house for our exit, my ritual is to clear my refrigerator of perishables, pack the vegetables and fruit that will travel. I share with my elderly neighbor anything she may use because Miss Sarah rarely leaves her house for inclement weather. I check both of our yards for loose debris and roll our bikes into our utility room.
My travel bags sit at the front door, but I am fidgety thinking of our trip. I watch my phone and check for a text from Greg about his company closure. It arrives confirming the release of employees to evacuate. Greg plans to come home mid-day to make our pilgrimage to the upstate, along with the other thousands encouraged to evacuate. Our house has survived for nearly a century and has weathered dozens of these storms with no major damage giving us hope everything will be ok.
South Carolina’s govenor reverses the interstate to accommodate the flood of Charlestonians driving away from the onslaught of wind and water eminent within the next 24 hours. I feared our late departure meant hours and hours in long lines, yet we made it in just twice the normal arrival time.
I press my face to the glass of the French door off the deck of my son’s house. Our daughter in law is expecting us, but Hudson does not know. He throws up his hand and covers his heart with a big smile. As soon as I step indoors, he reaches toward me.
“Uh…uh..” he babbles.
“Nana and Grandpa came to see you, Hudson.” as I scoop him up. He feels light as a feather. He doesn’t hug my neck, but he points out my necklace. He has pulled on whatever I am wearing since he was very little. I’ll take what interest he has in his Nana because it calms my heart to hold him in my arms. He embodies the love I have for his Dad and Mom, and the hope for our future. As watch them parent him, I know they cannot fully comprehend the fleeting blessedness this time is for them. Every day Hudson is walking toward more and more autonomy.
Years ago, when my children were small I’d visit our family-owned assisted living facility.
Sam, a longtime resident and adopted family member, would talk to my kids and show interest in what they were doing.
“Enjoy these days, Denise, they are the best of your life.” Her remarked one afternoon.
“You mean all the sleepless nights and not a minute to think? It has to get easier than this.”
“I know you don’t believe it now, but remember I told you.”
His words came to my mind today as Grandpa held Hudson’s hand and walked the driveway prior to the rain hitting. Together we watched the cars moving down the street. He lifted his free hand saying, “This? That?” We share all we imagine he is asking with his limited words.
This day started out with Hudson in his PJ’s in his mother’s arms reaching toward me with outstretched arms, saying clearly, “Nana.” I gasped with wide eyes wondering if what I heard was right. He regularly says Dada and Mama, but I was blessed to hear Nana. My first grandchild saying my name for the first time, this day will live in infamy in my heart as one of the top treasured moments. After a day of running after a toddler, I fall into bed knowing why parents of young children need stamina and good knees. I wouldn’t trade any of it for a minute. Hurricane Florence is barreling toward our coast and I pray for the safety of our Carolina. I will take this unexpected visit gratefully. As the wind and rain begin to howl outside, my heart is happy and content waiting for another repeat of the name Nana.