Grandma and I were invited to attend a private family gathering to celebrate our three year old granddaughter’s, Leah’s, birthday. We brought gifts as did her maternal grandparents. It was promising to be an exciting time with pizza and a homemade cake decorated by the birthday girl, herself, with her and her one year old sister, Ellie, providing the energy to turn this all memorable. To offset this happy scene, I came in pain (probably my diverticulosis); so, I sat at the end of the table watching Leah engage mom and dad and three other grandparents in her design on the new presents she was opening.
Next to me in a highchair sat little Ellie, who seemed to discern something out of place. My quiet observing of a party in which I should be in the middle went unobserved by the adults, but not Ellie. Ellie was enjoying some finger food momma supplied while she processed her observations. And here is where my story really begins.
Ellie repeatedly looked back at me with a sweet inviting smile that suggested she knew something more than we ascribe to one year olds. Did she know I hurt? Did she have inside information I didn’t have. Sometimes God shares with children—I am told—things we are too independent in our thoughts to receive. I muse.
Ellie, a few times, offered me a piece of her food. It was genuine, though, I politely declined. She seemed to understand. Even her eyes smiled her sympathy. (This from a little girl that just a few months ago was terrified by my old face.) But now, here was Grandpa King sitting beside her when he should be out on the floor with her dancing sister and Ellie was engaging in a caring way.
I jokingly informed my son to educate his one year old who was “hitting on me” that I am too old for her! haha. But the truth was that Ellie was providing me with a comfort in my distress in that private but meaningful moment.
I came away still asking myself: Did Ellie know something I would never think to credit to her young age? In her own way, she gave this old man an emotional hug that assuaged his pain and turned his thoughts away from his own discomfort—for which I shall be forever grateful.