Last October, at our youngest son Kenny’s wedding, oldest son Billy informed us that he and his wife Lori were expecting their third child. Having started with a girl and then a boy, we figured they were done, but we were overjoyed when we heard that their family would be growing.
Just over a week ago, on Wednesday afternoon, April 17th, Billy sent us the following text, “Annabelle Lorraine D’Elia is here! Lori and baby are both doing great!”, and we got to see the first pictures of our just born Granddaughter!
A little later, we got details that she was born at 4:06 PM, was 7 lbs. 4 oz, 21 inches, “And beautiful”, said the proud Papa!
The next day was a big one in little Annabelle’s life! First, she got to meet her big sister and big brother, when our 5 year old Granddaughter Layla, and her 3 1/2 year old brother Henry visited Mommy and Annabelle in the hospital. Just looking at Layla and Henry with Annabelle, it’s easy to tell that both of them are thrilled to have a new baby sister, and are going to be a great big brother and sister! The other big event in little Annabelle’s life was that she and Mommy were going home! Hard to believe, but within 24 hours of being born, Lori and her newborn baby were getting out of the hospital, and going home. How time changes the way things work.
Another thing we learned on Thursday was that they were going to be calling her Anna. I had to tell Billy at that point that his Anna D’Elia was not the first time that first and last name had gone together in our family. His grandfather’s mother, my paternal Grandmother was also named Anna D’Elia. She died in 1953 when I was 3 years old, and I don’t have any recollection of her beyond pictures and stories, and don’t know if Billy had ever even known, but little Anna and her Great Great Grandmother share the same name!
Although pictures kept coming from North Carolina to Ocean City, at this point Susie and I could not wait till Saturday when we were heading down to NC to spend Easter weekend with Billy’s family and to meet the newest member of that family!
Our trip started early Saturday morning with torrential rain as we left Ocean City, but by the time we got to Delaware, the weather had calmed down, and the further south we drove, the nicer the weather got. The drive was long, but once we got to their house Saturday afternoon, that was all forgotten and we were taken with how incredibly beautiful and small our new Granddaughter was. We tend to forget the size babies are when they come home from the hospital, but even though it’s been 30 plus years since any of our babies were that size, Susie had absolutely no trouble sliding right into Grandma mode!
Anna was very awake and totally aware of what was going on around her. She sized us up, and we like to think decided we were acceptable as Grandparents! I know for sure she liked snuggling with Susie, and enjoyed the bottle she fed her and even the diaper change Grandma effected! And for Grandma, it was of course, love at first sight, especially the new baby smell! And what was I doing while Grandma was bonding with her Granddaughter, why Grandpa was playing Mouse Trap with Layla and Henry!
I don’t remember if our kids ever had the game Mouse Trap, but it’s something Layla and Henry always drag out and want to play with Grandpa. It’s a diabolical game, that takes about 3 times as long to set up as it does to play, but the kids love it! Honestly, the game itself is rather lame, but the board, with all it’s levels and Rube Goldberg kind of ball drops is a lot of fun, and what they really love about the game. As the saying goes, “Some Assembly Required” and this time took the efforts of Grandpa and Dad before we could play. About halfway through, Henry tired of the game and Layla and I continued to play for him and in the end, he won, Layla came in second, and Grandpa last! Not my favorite game, but playing with those two is some of the most fun I have whenever we visit!
Talking to Billy and Lori, we discovered where Annabelle’s name came from. Annabelle was Lori’s late Dad, Fred’s ,Mom’s name, and Lorraine was Kathy, her Mom’s Mom’s name. Once Billy knew that Anna was his Grandfather’s Mom’s name, he commented, “So she was named after 2 old Italian ladies”.
The next day was Easter, and we were all going to a big family gathering at Lori’s sister’s house, and Billy and Lori needed some items from the store, so while we watched the 3 little ones, Billy took Lori on an outing to the grocery store! Is there anything better in life, than spending time with your Grandkids?? Love talking to Layla and Henry, and getting their take on life. Grandma was in 7th Heaven with Anna, while honestly, Layla and Henry are more my speed. Love hearing them call me “Grandpa”!
Easter Sunday dawned cloudy and the weather forecast was for a cool and cloudy day. We arrived at Lori’s sister Kerry and her husband Bill’s house at 11 AM, and were immediately surrounded by family, including 11 kids under the age of 10, including Layla, Henry and Anna! Everyone had brought something to contribute (we’d brought traditional Easter Pies from my Dad’s heritage), and there was so much food, including the very good Shrimp and Grits our son had made. It was a great day, with lots of food and conversation and the kids playing, and participating in an Easter Egg hunt, and Anna spending time in a lot of folks arms…even Grandpa’s!
After a busy Easter, Mom and Anna were pooped and just looking for some down time, so we spent our last day in Raleigh with our son Billy and Layla and Henry. First on our schedule, lunch at Chik-fil-a and playing in the playroom (Layla and Henry that is).
Next we were off to see The Missing Link at the movies. The theater we were going to was in a neat shopping destination called North Hills. Along with the theater there were restaurants and shops all along carefully laid out streets. Once we got the tickets, we went on a short walk to look around, before Dad got a Starbucks coffee, and we settled on a park bench while the kids played a bit in the gorgeous sunshine!
Once we got to the movie theater, it was tough to steer Henry away from the little arcade that was right inside the entrance, but with the promise of soda and popcorn, we moved to the theater. Like when we went to the movies in Florida, this is one of the new theaters with reclining seats, and all the comforts of home, and the two kids made full use of them! Grandpa had to sit next to Henry and Layla had to sit next to Grandma. Then Daddy wisely got both the pop corn and soda split into two for them, and after about 20 minutes of previews, the movie finally started. I don’t know why they have to do the same endless previews with kid’s movies, because every time a preview started, Henry would ask me, “Is this the movie Grandpa?”. What a pain! We enjoyed the movie, but by the end, Daddy had both kids in his lap, forgetting the carefully crafted seating plan they’d earlier devised! After 30+ years, you forget what it’s like to have little kids!
By the time the movie was over, and we’d gotten Henry off the motorcycle in the arcade, it was close to 5, and as it was a school night, it was time to say good-bye to our son and grandkids. Hugs and kisses were given all around, and promises to see each other real soon were uttered, as they walked Grandma and Grandpa back to their car.
As we always do, we loved our time with our North Carolina Family, loved being with our Grandkids, and loved meeting little Anna. It’s hard when your kids and their kids live a 7+ hour drive away from you, but you make it work, and you enjoy the hell out of the time you get to spend together. I know we both did, and will enjoy the memories till we get together again, either in Ocean City or in Raleigh. It is what it is!