by Kazuko Hiroe
When she was in her late fifties, Grandma fostered a little girl named Nicola. This girl was just a baby who was born not long before I was. The doctors told her that she wouldn’t live long and would stay in hospital until she passed. A social worker, knowing my grandmother’s open home, asked if if this baby could stay for a few days. A few days turned into a number of years.
Nicola had CP, was blind and never learned to talk or walk. She had daily seizures. Nicola was spoon fed, carried around, read to and sung to. Grandma made sure she went to school to be with other children.
Most of the grandkids worked for Grandma at some point as our first employer. She gave us jobs she thought we would excel in. While some baked and others gardened, she asked me to work with Nicola. I fed, changed, bathed, did exercises with, and told her all my secrets. I remember telling Grandma that I was going to figure out a way to communicate with her. Grandma said she surely understood me. Nicola would laugh every time she heard my voice.
I remember being amazed that my grandma would choose a life which was made challenging because of a girl who was so dependent on her… but Grandma lived for it. She stayed young because she was so needed. Grandma cared for Nicola into her old age until she was too sick and weak. She was only able to let Nicola go when my Aunt said she would care for her.
I remember her looking at me with such pride when she saw me working with Nicola. She may have even told me that I had a gift with her. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. When I see Kai and the way he is with Nash, I think I must look at him with that same adoration and pride as she did with me. I get it now.
So… thank you Grandma. XO