JUST LIKE IT IS – The Mighty Gabbi (3)
My enforced absence from this space over the last three weeks coincided with my granddaughter Gabbi’s fifth birthday and I was unable, as in the last two years, to dedicate a column to her growth and development.
As a result, the calls and emails came thick and fast and not only from fellow dotish grandfathers. They said, inter alia: “Sorry to hear you are indisposed. You have a national duty to update the country on Gabbi’s progress.”
Another said: “When you recover, forget the international affairs and politics. Please write again about the apple of your eye as only you can.”
A third said: “With all the gloom and doom at home and across the planet, you will lift a lot of spirits by telling us about Gabbi. Don’t write about anything else, including the West Indian cricketers. Just pray they follow the advice of Dave Martins and the Tradewinds – ‘All yuh take a rest’. It would be a fillip reading about Gabbi.”
With such powerful entreaties and facing Hobson’s choice, I picked up my laptop again. I give sincere thanks for the expressions of concern and encouragement. Severely impaired vision and unable to read was a modern form of torture. I give special thanks for your prayers, which brings me to a memorable watershed event.
Two Saturdays ago, I was feeling down and out. Gabbi came to visit and asked: “Grand P, why are you frowning like that?”
I said: “Gabs, what do you mean by frowning? Who taught you that word?” She made a face mimicking me and climbed into the bed.
“Cheer up, Grand P, your favourite girl is here. You should be happy. Give me your hand.”
Bowing her head reverentially, she said: “Jesus, please heal Grand P’s eye, okay? Thank you, Jesus, thank you.”
She called early Sunday morning to ask if I was seeing better, told me the eye is “fragile” and will take time (the ophthalmologist’s prognosis) assuring me that “Jesus will take care of you”. She then told me I should be proud of her.
“Mummy gave me your number and I dialled it myself.”
Now she calls two and three times every day, never failing to tell me that she loves me with “all of my heart”.
Quite a little wordsmith, she uses words which eluded me well into secondary school. One night when I asked her to switch from the cartoon channel to CBC to hear the 7 o’clock news, she said: “You are welcome. I am not selfish or mean.”
She called a special birthday gift “awesome” and asked if my eye problem was because of an “allergy”.
She continues to amaze and amuse us by the things she says and does. Insisting she wants to be a doctor, one day when I was under the weather, she came to me with her grandmother’s tape measure around her neck. Telling me to lie on the bed, she said it was her stethoscope and she was going to check my heart.
Resting her hand on my chest, after a brief pause she declared: “No problem there. You are as fit as a fiddle.”
It boggled my mind that a child not yet five could pronounce stethoscope, not the easiest of words, flawlessly. Her mum told me she had her annual medical days before and was repeating what the paediatrician told her.
She continues to enthral not only her nuclear family and friends, but also total strangers. When she went to the supermarket the day Prime Minister David Thompson was buried, she told the security guard he looked sad, enquiring if it was because of the death. He told her that he, like everyone else, was indeed feeling sad.
She replied: “We are all feeling sad. But we have a new Prime Minister, Mr Freundel [not the easiest name encountered in her short life] Stuart.”
The guard was in shock and awe, as was a passing shopper who paused to tell her he was amazed that she knew the names of the two Prime Ministers. She told him that she also knew President Barack Obama. The gentleman’s jaw dropped further when she said she would be a Prime Minister too. He told her that if at her age she could say she would be a Prime Minister, she would be indeed and he hoped to live to see that day.
She is full of confidence and self-assurance with a wonderful sense of humour. Seeing me with a patch over my eye, she declared: “Grand P, you look like a pirate. I will call you Peter Simmons the pirate.”
And coming across a photograph of me dressed to the colonial hilt in top hat and tails on my way to Buckingham Palace, she exclaimed: “Abracadabra, Grand P. You look like a magician.”
We give thanks that we have lived to celebrate another year in the exciting life of this fascinating little girl who continues to delight us and give us so much joy, pleasure and inspiration.
Gabs, may God continue to bless you richly.
Peter Simmons, a social scientist, is a former diplomat.