When I think of reincarnation, defined as the rebirth of a soul in a new body, one of my granddaughters is my personal case study. While DNA, our inherited characteristics such as blood groups, or hair color, or eye color, might be interesting, it’s not mystifying.
Mystifying is the granddaughter my husband calls Precious. Her emotional bond with my husband, her grandfather, is so complete that I figure they must’ve been married in a past life. I started noticing her infatuation with her papa when she was three years old and we picked her up from preschool. She climbed into the car, and I asked if she’d had a nice day.
“We colored,” Precious said.
“What’d you color,” I asked
She opened her backpack, pulled out a purple cat’s head. “This is for you, Papa.”
Precious pulled out another multi-colored cat picture. Her eyes rounded to roughly the size of a bread plate. “Wait.” She snatched the first picture out of my husband’s hand and handed it to me. “That’s yours, Nana.” She handed her papa the second cat picture. “Papa, yours is a picture of the whole cat.”
Precious tilted her head, smiled, came close to batting her baby blues.
After that incident, I began to take notice of the little things. Precious would arrive at our house with a present for her papa, but not one for me. A wrapped rock or a chipped cat’s eye marble, once a picture of her and her papa she thought he might want for his desk. She insisted on sitting by her papa at dinner, sitting in his lap when we watched TV, sleeping between us when she spent the night. Actually, she suggested I might be more comfortable sleeping down the hall. Precious was relentless.
At first, the mini-love affair was cute; then it started to hurt my heart. I was the one who took her shopping, cooked her favorites for dinner, baked her birthday cakes and braided her hair. But in Precious’s opinion, I teetered somewhere between babysitter and domestic help. Her heart was all Papa’s.
Back then, my husband and our oldest three sons worked together in our family business. I’d arrive at the office and find a drawing on my desk that Precious had sent in with her dad. My pictures were usually painted with one crayon and half-finished. Precious’s paintings for her papa were more in line with the Monet garden series.
When Precious turned five she discovered email. She’d send me a short five-word message. “hi nana write me back.” My husband would get a rambling love letter spouting her devotion. And just to stick that serrated Bowie knife a little deeper in my heart, she’d attach special effects to her papa’s email worthy of New York City’s 4th of July fireworks display.
When she was six, my husband and I retired, sold the business to our three oldest sons, and moved three hundred miles away. One day, the phone rang and I recognized Precious’s voice.
“Oh sweetheart, I’m so glad you called,” I said. “Nana’s misses you so much. Do you miss Nana?”
“Well,” she said. “I really miss Papa.”
“Okay, then.” I thrust the phone into my husband’s chest. I’m not proud of this, but I actually stalked out of the kitchen, went to our bedroom and polished off his Godiva Valentine candy.
Our Precious is in college now, but her long-term boyfriend understands he comes in a distant second to her papa.
A couple of months back, my husband took out the trash and came face-to-snout with an eight-foot alligator snoozing in our courtyard. I stood on our porch and snapped a photo, then posted it on Facebook. Precious’s response, “Don’t let that vile reptile near my Papa.”
You think she was kidding, but I know this girl. She expected me to launch my body like a human grenade at that gator and protect her papa.
Now that I think about it, maybe she wasn’t his wife in another life. Maybe she was his mother!