|Four Generations: Grandma Muirhead, Joan (holding Gary), Dad, and Debbie in front|
|Joan, Gary, Janet and Debbie (in front)|
On one such night, after my niece and nephew were tucked into bed and sound asleep, I made sure all the doors were locked before going to sleep myself. When Joan and Johnny came home, they realized they'd forgotten their house key. They pounded on the door, but we all slept through it. They came to window next to the bed where I slept and tapped on it, yelling my name. I slept through it. They finally managed to break into their house. Shortly after they got inside, Gary began to cry. I awakened immediately, jumped out of bed, and was rushing to his crib when I saw Joan, heading the same way. I guess my brain was tuned for certain sounds—the babies—not the adults.
How honored I was that Joan, such a dedicated, loving, caring young mother would entrust her children to my care—even after that episode. At that young age, I certainly didn't know all that I needed to know in order to be the perfect nanny. I'd had no formal instruction, just the experience of living with younger twin sisters and a little brother—and holding them every chance I got when they were babies. Years of experience and college classes in child development have taught me a lot that I wish I had known when my children were growing up. But I can't remember making any big mistakes (though probably a lot of little ones and maybe some close calls) while watching Debbie and Gary.
I took them to playgrounds, walks around the neighborhood, and 'picnics' at the sandstone rock formations at the end of a street they lived on. I had a little camera and took a lot of pictures. Was I risking injury when I sat Gary on the edge of a merry-go-round and stood back to take his picture? I'm glad he didn't fall off. Did I push them too high on the swings to be perfectly safe? I don't know, but there were no serious accidents. They were fed and rocked and read to and happy, so I guess love was enough, and they survived the summer of the teenage nanny.
Both Deb and Gary have grown to be responsible, successful, caring, compassionate adults. Through the years, though separated by many miles, Joan and I talked a lot. Anecdotes about our children, of course, were frequent topics. There's no doubt about her love, concern, and admiration for her kids. Love carried all of us through their growing-up years of joy, sorrow, worry and delight, weddings, babies, achievements, illnesses, and accidents. The bond of love deepened even further during the years and months of Joan's cancer as we all got together more frequently.
Joan was always a wonderful mom, and the best big sister. We miss her.