COLUMNS

She may not be famous, but I’m sure fortunate

Candace Cooksey Fulton-ccfulton2002@yahoo.com
CANDACE COOKSEY FULTON

I know it shouldn’t be, but one of my favorite Friday afternoon things to do is to be the driver for three or four seventh-grade girls.

I’ve earned the designation by being Kristena’s grandma, and I doubt any of the several passengers know me by any other moniker.

That Friday, the very beginning of spring break, there were a total of three girl passengers and about that many car stops between school and the final destination of “Kristena’s” where an early birthday sleepover/party was on the agenda.

The official birthday is Monday, March 17. My Miss K turns 13. Don’t know how she got that old that fast, when I think it was only yesterday she was a sack-of-potatoes little bundle in a flannel blanket whose piercing brown eyes gave me to know life as I knew it had just been put on standby. Everything was about to change.

I am not at all sure that if I were given the choice of going retro, and we could have do-overs and do-it-agains, I would not seize the chance to do so in a heartbeat. Well maybe I would make her stay little longer.

Knowing that’s not possible, I choose to enjoy it all, which brings us back to the Friday afternoon and my on-the-fly taxi service. Now as much as I love being the taxi grandma, there are times. Like last Friday, when I had a story due and needed to be working on it and suggested to the girls we didn’t have time to dilly dally.

“What kind of story?” One of the passengers asked.

“My grandma writes newspaper stories. Sometimes she writes about me,” Kristena answered, striking a pose before adding, “and now I’m famous.”

“Really?” The second passenger asked, suddenly interested. “Like what does she write?”

“Every year on my birthday, she writes about me,” Kristena divulged. “Since my birthday’s St. Patrick’s Day, she calls me ‘an Irish blessing.’”

Yes. Yes I do. I usually also explain how having been a mother to three boys, having a granddaughter was – well – was just about the most special thing I’d ever known.

I never planned to fall so completely in love – though every other grandmother I’ve ever known had warned me I would – but on that windy blue-sky St. Patrick’s Day in March, 2001, I surely did. There was so little prompting for it too. All that baby girl had to do was simply be there. I distinctly remember – like yesterday – looking into those piercing brown eyes and solemnly promising (though I said it in a baby coo voice) to love her to the moon and back and to move heaven and earth to prove I did.

It’s not easy being 12 nearly 13, and sometimes being the 61-year-old grandma is really hard. It’s a big tough world, and my Miss K has surely had some tougher-than-she-should-have rough days. It’s OK. We got through and we’re still going.

Each stage has its rewards. Now, of course, I get to be the taxi driver and #2 fan (her dad’s #1) in the bleachers for basketball, soccer, baseball and volleyball games, not to mention track meets. My stealth taxi driving with a car full of seventh-graders keeps me abreast of important things in middle school world, but when it’s just she and me making the trip, she tells me her own major and minor confidences.

It surprises me always how her hurts and concerns touch tender places in my heart and soul that I thought had long since hardened. Sometimes I tell her how it was when I was her age, and I think it surprises her how a long ago hurt and concern of mine will touch a tender place in her heart and soul. She comforts me right back.

I like to think I’ve risen to the occasion on my moon-and-back, move heaven and earth promises. Of course the sack-of-potatoes bundle has grown into a beautiful girl with a smile like a ray of sunshine, a wisdom that belies her youth.

She runs fast, plays hard and with a passionate energy that leaves an impression on those watching her race by. She’s kind and sweet. A blessing and a charmer – my blessing and charmer.

She deserves a grandma who’s promised to love her to the moon and back, who’s willing to move heaven and earth to make her world right. Wasn’t I lucky to get that appointment?

Happy birthday Miss Kristena. I wish for you all the best and pray you’ll use your own talents to make all the bests better.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, living now in San Angelo. She can be reached at ccfulton2002@yahoo.com.