The honor of being depended upon

It’s been a few weeks since my last entry – weeks that have been a blur of newness and crisis and joy and pain. But mostly joy. ¬†ūüôā

In brief, I am finally a grandma. This is after years and years of wanting a baby for Erin – heck, for ME! I knew Erin would be a spectacular mother, and I had a pretty good role model in my own mom, who was of the “foolishly doting” variety, as opposed to the standoffish, send-a-card-at-birthdays variety I myself experienced. I was ready: poised like a spring bulb stuck in the ground and waiting for that first burst of warm spring sun. And now that she is finally here, I feel everyone in her sphere blooming.

I’ve waited three whole paragraphs to show a photo. Here are a few of my precious Shannon Marie Evans, born May 9, weighing 7 lbs. 9 oz. with a dusting of (gasp) auburn hair. At ten days of age she is already opinionated, hilarious¬†and indescribably sweet. And as expected, Erin is a wonderful, intuitive, deeply empathetic mommy. And Jonathan has taken to fatherhood quickly and efficiently.


During her first week of life, I spent many hours every day in Oakland with the family, trying to help where I could, knowing new babies can really turn life upside down. I was never prouder or happier to be needed.¬†A couple of times I was able to calm Shannon during a rare bout of inconsolable crying. There is nothing quite so satisfying in life… unless perhaps it’s helping another helpless being – this one four-legged – who also needs me desperately.

One such critter presented itself on Mother’s Day. Bandita (Dita for short) is one of six¬†farm cats I’ve been feeding for a year and a half since we discovered them living on beans and rice that farm workers put out. You’re not supposed to have favorites among your kids or cats, and yet she has been mine. She is a gorgeous little calico around 2 years old, very shy, and yet anxious to bond. (When I arrive there every day, she stares deep into my eyes and comes as close as her fears will allow, then skitters away when I try to pet her.)

About a week ago, Dita disappeared. My heart was¬†in my throat every day when I arrived there to feed and I’d fight tears when she didn’t show. The canyon is rife with predators, from bobcats to coyotes to even mountain lions. And then on Mother’s Day, she emerged from the bushes – but something was clearly wrong. She would walk only a few feet at a time on wobbly back legs, and have to lie down again. She had clearly had an accident, or perhaps fallen from her perch in the barn. But she was a wreck – like an old wagon lurching forward with the back wheels coming off.

Dita injury

I raced home to get a carrier, but when I returned, she had eaten and gone. And every day this week I’ve tried to trap her with a variety of mechanisms, to no avail so far. While the other cats scamper up to me and my plates of food, Dita hangs back in the shadows, watching me closely as I carry the trap close to her. If I take one step too close, she wobbles off. I set the trap with great-smelling tuna, then sit in my car and wait while Dita goes halfway into the trap…. and then backs out again. Every day I’ve told her that I love her, and it’s my duty as her human guardian to help her. So she might as well relax and cooperate.

It hasn’t worked so far. But knowing I’m the only human she allows to even get close to her, it feels like an honor to try.

It’s not too different than changing a wailing Shannon’s diapers, or swaddling her when she’d rather fling her arms around like fireworks. I tell her softly in her ear that I am her grandma, and I will someday take her to Paris, and grow a garden with her, but in the meantime I have a duty to help her even when she doesn’t think she needs it.

I won’t stop trying to catch Dita until I do; I won’t stop doing whatever Princess Shannon needs me to do, in order to be a good grandma. It’s interesting to learn that love is love – whether of the two- or four-legged variety. In any form it’s an honor to bear its burden.


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