Even from a young age Natalie studied things. She would focus on objects, people, events.....just studying and examining, soaking up everything she could. You can see her wheels turning, synthesizing information and drawing conclusions. She wants to see, do and experience everything life has to offer.
She reminds me of my grandma in this aspect.
One evening while Grandma was visiting, my brothers and I sat on the couch, each of us with a cheek full of sunflower seeds and a spit cup in our hand.
Grandma was intrigued.
She watched us intently as we sucked off the salt, nimbly cracked open the shell, extracted the seed and then spit out the remains. She asked questions about what we were doing and being the dutiful grandchildren, we answered. After each reply she would sit back on the couch and mull over the new information, her eyes never leaving the three of us. Finally she requested a single seed. Mike, Stephen and I glanced warily at each other.
Grandma had dentures you see.
Being the eldest, Stephen handed over a seed and showed Grandma what to do. The chaos of a family gathering slowed as all attention turned to this exchange.
She sat. She cracked. She spit and she chewed.
We waited for the verdict.
Hmm. She contemplated.
"Well Grandma? Would you like another?" Stephen asked.
"Oh no." Grandma shook her head vehemently. "One was enough. I just wanted a taste."
The infamous story of the sunflower seed. That was just Grandma. She wanted to soak up every experience and learn as much as she possibly could from the people and places around her.
I see this in Natalie. It brings me such joy to see the connection from Grandma to my little girl.
When I witness Natalie's curiosity it's a gentle and comforting reminder that Grandma was here alive and vibrant on this Earth.
She's been gone almost eleven years..........after awhile the memories fade and the past can become dream-like. I forget what her voice sounded like - the indistinguishable mixture of strong Italian accent combined with the slang of having lived in the states for most of her adult life. I don't remember the color of her eyes but if I focus hard enough I can still feel the weathered softness of her hands. The tickle of her fingernails delicately weaving through my hair. The shuffle of her slippers down the hallway of her 50's style ranch house in College Station. She was always an early riser.
Seeing glimpses of her in my daughter affirms for myself where I came from - the strength, the faith, the compassion and the wisdom that Grandma so wonderfully carried with her still remains on this Earth in my mother, myself and my daughter.
So when Natalie's curiosity flares up, I sit and I watch. I allow her the time and space to explore, discover and think. I stay quiet until she asks or exclaims. I find delight in her excitement and her wonderment.
Carefully watching her lunch bake.
Examining the wheel of a friends car.
Keeping an eye on Daddy as he mows the lawn.
Staring out the window at the rain during a basketball tournament.
Watching the fish swim by at the aquarium.
Saying hello to the early morning ducks.
My curiouser and curiouser little girl.