By Mary Donaldson-Evans
You know your alphabet, Sophie, but it will be a long time before you read this. Never mind: when you do, you’ll know how much your Mimi loved you, not just because you were a beautiful little girl, but because you taught her about the miraculous.
The lesson came in three parts.
Part I came when you were not yet two. Mimi and Granddad were taking you for a walk along the trail that follows Ridley Creek, scarcely aware of the sound of the waterfall as we approached. We’d heard it so many times! But this time you were our guide. Mimi was pushing the empty stroller as you ran ahead: no baby stroller for a big girl like you! Suddenly you spied the waterfall and stopped in your tracks. You’d seen water falling from the faucet in the bathtub, but never anything like this. The roar of that water! And the froth that formed where the cascade met the creek! You clapped your hands over your mouth, and then you turned to get our attention, pointed, and shrieked, “Oh, my gosh!” “Yes, Sophie, it’s a waterfall!” I said, and you repeated, “Wa-duh-fall!”
In that moment, I saw the waterfall through your eyes and wondered when I had become so immune to its power and majesty. (Note to self: take Sophie to Niagara Falls.)
Part II came one sunny morning when Mimi was babysitting for you. You were eating your Cheerios and looking at a book of shiny stickers when one of the pages of the sticker book caught the sun and projected it on the wall.
“Mimi! Mimi! Come here!!” you cried.
I ran to your side. “Look!” you screamed, pointing at the wall. “Shadows!”
“It’s a reflection, Sophie. Can you say ‘reflection’?”
“Re-feck-shun,” you replied dutifully.
Then, together, we turned that book this way and that, watching as the sun glanced off it and dappled the walls with points of light. The circles of light bounced and pulsed as you watched, your eyes shining.
Part III was just two weeks ago. We were waiting for Mommy on a city sidewalk when the rain began to fall. We whipped out the umbrellas and huddled beneath them as the rainfall became heavier and the sidewalk got wet. You had your own umbrella, and you pranced beneath it as we sang a rainy day song. Pretty soon, a small puddle formed where one slab of cement met another. It took you approximately one-tenth of a millisecond to spy the puddle and you gingerly extended a foot towards it, ready to stamp.
“Oh-oh, she’s found a puddle,” says Granddad on the video Mimi took with her iPhone. “Don’t get your shoes wet!”
You hesitated, then slowly withdrew your foot and backed away.
And then you lowered the umbrella so that it was really only protecting the back of your animal-print coat and you raised your tiny face skyward and you opened your mouth and started catching raindrops on your tongue. How you laughed as the raindrops fell! You giggled as your hair became damp then dripping wet and water began to trickle down your silken cheeks.
Who knew that raindrops could be so much fun?
You have yet to master the vocabulary for all these wonders of nature, Sophie, but in your capacity to experience awe, you have achieved a far more important mastery. Like a modern-day alchemist, you have transformed the dull metal of the ordinary into the gold of the miraculous.
After Day Care last Thursday, you told your Mommy with great excitement that you had planted a seed. I want to be there when that seed sprouts.
Mary describes herself as a relatively new (but by no means young!) grandmother.