Sunday morning, we got up and went about our normal routine.
Only on our drive to church, we didn’t listen to Chuck Smith as usual… we were both quietly lost in thought, wondering what the day would bring.
Would the aunt show up? What if she told other family members where Sweet Pea was and they came to meet her? Would they have expectations of getting to hold her since they’re her biological relatives? Did we make a big mistake telling them where we’d be every single Sunday?
When we got to church, those fears somehow faded amongst the demands of a hungry infant and a building that needed to be prepared for ministry. In fact, I’d almost forgotten about it when I handed Sweet Pea to her daddy so I could take care of something.
When I heard a friend calling out my name, looking for me, I knew something was up. When she spotted me, her eyes looked nervous.
“The grandma’s here.”
We hadn’t met the grandmother yet. I straightened my clothes and swooshed my hair as I asked my friend if I looked okay. I wanted to make sure I looked enough like a “mom” for her liking. Once my friend verified that I had no food in my teeth, I headed towards the hall.
There she was. Standing just ten feet away, my husband holding Sweet Pea proudly for her to see. Clearly they’d already been talking for a few minutes.
She looked up at me, and I smiled and started towards her. Trying to sound as grown-up as possible, I held out my hand and introduced myself. She returned my introduction, and added “the baby’s grandma” in case I hadn’t figured that out.
“Nice to meet you.” I said.
Good. She’s smiling. She’s friendly.
Then she pulled me aside, a few feet away from my husband, the baby, and several church friends who were doting on her.
Her voice got real hush, obviously not wanting others to hear what she was going to say.
“I just want you to know… I’m not going to fight you for her.”
A smile burst across my face, uncontainable. Then she continued.
“When my daughter told me about the visit, she just kept saying, ‘mom, they’re so nice!’…. and my daughter don’t like anybody!” she laughed. “I can’t tell you how relieved I was listening to her talk about it. As you know, she’s the mom’s twin sister, and while this has been really hard on all of us (not knowing where the baby was or who she was with) this has been really hard on her. She has been so stressed out the past few months. But after meeting you guys and seeing how happy and healthy the baby is… it’s like I have my daughter back again.” She smiled.
Praise God, I thought.
“I’m so glad to hear that,” I replied, “and thank you… we absolutely adore her,” I said, glancing toward Sweet Pea and my husband, who was still proudly showing her off to our church friends, who seemed to know something unusual was up and were hovering close enough to make sure everything was okay.
When I asked her if she’d like to stay for service, she quickly said no, then looked around nervously.
“People here know me. I don’t want to cause you any trouble or have anyone make the connection that the baby’s from my family… I’m worried someone might let her mom know where she is.”
Okay… stress level back up again. Would that really happen?
Before she left, she handed me a folded up piece of paper.
“Here. I wrote this intending for somebody to hand it to you before I came in… but I still want you to have it.”
I took it, stashed it in my back pocket, then said goodbye.
Once I was alone in the cry room, I began rocking Sweet Pea to sleep as my husband led the congregation in a hearty rendition of “How Great Thou Art.”
Half-way through the song, I remembered the letter and pulled it out, too curious to let it wait until after church. Inside, she detailed pretty much everything she’d already told me… people here know her… she didn’t want to cause trouble… doesn’t want the mom to find us.
I tried to let go of the anxiety of that last part…
Then, three little words caught my attention.
After thanking us for taking good care of her granddaughter, she closed out the letter in a way that acknowledged our role in Sweet Pea’s life, just as the aunt had done at the visit.
“Happy Father’s Day.”
It was a happy Father’s Day, indeed. We’d met the grandmother, and she turned out to be just lovely. And she had practically given us her blessing in raising her granddaughter. Another obstacle down.
I folded up the paper and stuck it into the diaper bag, kissed the precious baby sound asleep in my arms, then joined my husband in song…
“How Great Thou Art.”
(To continue the story, click here)