Advice for Turning 16

Renae Brabham
I often wondered what that day would be like... back when I lulled her to sleep in an outside swing, when we talked about the cheesy moon and fireflies, when we stuck our noses in flowers so deep that we drew out pollen, when we drank the nectar of honeysuckles. 
Would she still want to hang out with me when she was 16?

When she was three, she put her shoes on when I pulled into the yard with a confident cock-eyed stare at her mama that said, "I'm going with grandma, just sayin'."  


When she was five, we took a stroll one evening. Abby saw the dark cascading line of the mountains at sunset on the horizon. She wanted to walk to them. I explained that we couldn't make it that far, to which she replied "You sit down and rest Grandma, I will pick you up on the way back." 


When she was seven,  she paid me a drop-in visit. "Grandma can I stay the night tonight?" she asked. "Sweetheart you didn't bring any clothes," I replied. "That's okay, I can wear a towel."  


When she was 10: "Grandma, I want you to be my roommate when I go to college." 


When she was 11: "I don't want to go trick-or-treating. I want to stay with Grandma and Paw Paw." (She just never grasped the whole trick-or-treating thing. She's the  only trick-or-treater I know that rang a doorbell and asked to use their bathroom.)


When she was 12, I was bringing the girls home for a slip & slide party/cookout and a  quick thunderstorm came up. Abby was frightened by the thunder. The conversation between the girls and their friends went something like: "Abby, it's okay, it's natural, God makes storms," her younger sister Alana chided.  "I don't like natural," Abby replied, sinking down into the seat when as a clap of thunder rolled. "Abby, don't you want to see God?" her sister asked. "Yes, but not today," she replied.  


When she was 14, she would text me, "Grandma, u awake? I miss u. luv u."


When she was 16... My daughter called from North Carolina and told me Abby wanted to spend her sixteenth birthday with us. She brought two friends. During the fun teen time of the weekend, I realized we hadn't really been alone. I had a brief moment of sadness, quickly broken by peals of laughter from teen girls. On the last night of their visit, we were driving away from Towne Centre when they saw a shop they wanted to go into. I pulled into the lot and begged out of going in. I rolled the window down and settled in for a good little wait. Minutes after going into the store, Abby came back out by herself and climbed into the truck with me. She said she had a little stomachache. Or did she? We sat and talked about life's dilemmas, I offered a little sage advice, and we shared some giggles. Her friends walked out of the store, laughing, and we looked back at each other. Time froze briefly. I knew our bond was deepened in those few moments. I thought to myself later.. My life isn't a measurement of years or months or even days. It is a collection of moments, and what we choose to do with each. 


I can still see her clomping down the hall with my heels on, her mouth garishly painted outside of the lines with my L’Oreal #502. Although she has physically grown into those big-girl shoes, I hope that she has a few little-girl hoorahs left.
As I pondered that thought, I walked in on her sucking the helium out of her huge "Sweet Sixteen" balloon that Paw Paw proudly wrestled through the store to purchase. She squealed "Hey Grandma" like a hobbit.
Okay, that worry is gone.  
Abby, there are shut boxes beckoning to be opened, closed doors as well. Keyholes are portals. Mistakes are imminent and risks are recommended. Never let money or lack of it determine your happiness. Look for life's magic in the moments, the bubbles, the raindrops, the fallen feathers, equip yourself with the ability to see what's real and the audacity to imagine what's not.