On The Things We Keep

Baby Clothes, Ridiculous Flowers, A Bassinet Skirt.

And The Things We Give
“I must be flunking Grandma,” I tell my daughter on the phone. 

“Oh, I doubt that!” She laughs, music, and I hear joy and fatigue in her voice, stretched as she’s been to play her role in a brand new miracle.

“Because,” I continued, “I don’t  know what my new granddaughter will be sleeping in. A grandmother should know these things. Are you using a bassinet?”

“Yes,” Elaine says, her soft chuckle a refrain. “And I don’t think there’s a rule about grandmas knowing that.”

“Anyway,” I push forward. “I was digging through my cedar chest, and I discovered that I had saved the bassinet skirt from when you were a baby. If you’d like to have it, I’ll send it to you. It’s yellow gingham,” I hurry to add. “And if you don’t want it, it’s okay.”

I don’t want to impose old things on a new baby. 

“Sure, Mom,” she says, easy and joyful, overflowing. “That would be great.”

We chat about rest and squalling, about tiny girls learning to do for themselves what a umbilical cord did, just a few days before, and then our conversation ends as a tiny squawk reaches through the phone, through my ear. “Is that her I hear?” I ask, the sound boring into my soul, a welcome little camper in my heart.

Yup. I’d better go. She’s hungry.” 

“Okay, Sweetie. I’ll send that box the first of the week.” I have other things for the box, too. Her christening gown. A kimono and booties crocheted by one of my mother’s aunts. A tiny coat and bonnet, crocheted by the other.

And a plain yellow stretch sleeper.

I should write a note, I think, as I tuck items into the box, so these won’t seem so random. I compose in my head:

Dear Elaine and Rob:

Here are some things for Daphne. I told you already about the bassinet skirt, how it lined the bassinet you slept in as a baby. As my baby. We bought the hairbands and flower clips–they were too cute! 

You might have some questions about the other things, though. 

The long eyelet dress is your christening gown. I sewed it for you, and the bonnet drove me nearly to madness. Your auntie Elaine rescued me. 

Rear: Your Grandma Marie, Great-Grandma Seiler, Grandpa Rod, Great-Grandpa Milton, Grandma Marilyn. Front: Your Dad, You, Me. 

I saved the other things because of the events that happened as you wore them.

That little yellow shortall with the embroidery? You wore that the first time you met your great-grandparents. ‘Pa smiled and smiled and my grandma wouldn’t put you down. 

Great-Grandma and Grandpa Downs, and You.

I had to practically pry you free so I could hold you for the four-generation photo. 

Great-Grandma, Me, You, Grandma. 

I dressed you in short green-and-while terry number for your first portraits. 

Beautiful You. Perfect You. 

You wore the little white dress to Uncle Tim’s high school graduation. 

Uncle Tim, You. 

And that plain yellow stretch sleeper? I had dressed you in that, tucking those sweet baby feet, so smooth and plump, into its legs, tugging the sleeves down over your tiny arms, arms that already knew how to cling like a monkey to her mommy, snapping up its front all the way to that adorable baby chin. . . I had dressed you in that plain yellow stretch sleeper the morning that you first gazed up at your mother and smiled

Me. You. Smiles. 

I found a few other baby things in the chest that I’m not sending: rubber pants and undershirts. I put them away back then, I suppose, expecting to need them again, soon enough.

But there was only you. 

And you were enough.


22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NASB)