is an experience in humility.
She has Down’s Syndrome, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to or watching her.
She runs, plays, swing, argues, wrestles, loves, hugs, manipulates and somehow ends up being the center of attention wherever she goes simply because she has a larger than life personality.
She knows what she wants and how to get it.
Usually by putting her innocent-looking, pixie-faced, tinkerbell eyes on her Papaw.
He can deny her nothing. He says he can, but he can’t.
Or maybe won’t is the better way to say it.
She has him wrapped as tight as Dick’s hatband around her little finger, her forefinger, her middle finger, her thumb.
He is wrapped.
Ice cream, Papaw.
Murder the neighbor and bury them in Louisa’s spring, Papaw.
It is a joy to watch her as she learns to manipulate the ones she knows are easy marks.
I, on occasion, an am easy mark, but for the most part, she knows that Nini means business and expects her to act like a human child; but even I have my limitations when she flashes that smile and says “I love you, Nini”.
I am, after all, human.
She is growing up so fast.
It seems like only moments ago that she was in the NICU with lines and tubes and a tiny body that looked as though it would break with a look and shatter with a touch.
But she passed the shatter stage a while back.
She is a pistol, is our Gracie, and as tough as nails.
She doesn’t take no for an answer, asks a million questions one after the other and could give Flash Gordon a run for his money when she feels like it.
I think we have all chased her (and lost) at some point, while she laughs and skips and eludes our efforts to catch her.
She is a bit like the gingerbread man. Catch me if you can, she says, knowing we are too slow to be any real threat.
She went back to school this week and loved on all her classmates as though they had been cruelly separated for years.
I don’t know much about anything but I know this … a hug from Gracie can make the worst day, the most difficult moment, the hardest trial seem as nothing.
She has way about her. A being, an aura, a spirit … call it what you will, but it is irresistible and it is life-altering.
She has a way of making you feel, at the moment, as though you are the most important thing in the world; and the ability to make you believe it unequivocally.
I cannot imagine, and will not imagine a world without Gracie for it would, without doubt, irrevocably break my spirit.
She is the epitome of sunshine. I’m pretty sure when Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell wrote “you are my sunshine”, they did so because they had a premonition about Gracie. God is cool that way.
She is a bright spot in the lives of everyone she come across.
It would be my great pleasure for all of my friends to meet her, to know her and to benefit greatly from one of her “I love you even if you are an idiot” hugs.
She doesn’t take into account how smart, how talented, how boring, how nerdy, how geeky, how crazy, how messed up, how depressed, how out of touch or how indifferent you are.
She changes lives, just by being, by smiling, by living.
A smile from Gracie, unless you are the devil himself, will melt you like warm chocolate.
She is, unto herself, an entity.
There really is no way to avoid the beauty that enters your person when she hugs you tightly and puts her little face into your neck.
She is a gift from God. A simple truth.
She sees life and people in one dimension and that is unbiased love. She doesn’t understand anything else (except the occasional temper tantrum that makes the Kraken look like a goldfish).
But we’ll save that tidbit for another day.
For now, by proxy, be encouraged by Gracie. She is a power to be reckoned with and it is wonderful to be a part of this precious child’s life.
“It’s Nini” she says, as she runs with her arms outstretched to me. Every other thought in my head dissolves for it has no power against such beauty.
I am thankful for her. I am grateful for her. I am indebted to her.
May God continue to bless our sweet Gracie.
She is beautiful and she makes everything and everyone around her beautiful as well.