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Monday, November 28, 2011

My Granddaughter's Former Life

When my granddaughter was six she liked to tell her mother, "Mommy, you're beautiful." He would tease her father, who is several years older than her mother, and say, "Daddy, you're old!" Then he would giggle. It was at a time when she was expressing certain concepts she was growing to understand, such as age and relationships. She would say things to me like, "You're my grandmother. You're my mom's mother." For whatever reason, she felt the need to state these understandings out loud and directly to us.One day she was staying with me and she told me, "Grandma, you're old!" I agreed with her immediately, because I knew that to her I was "old" even though I was in my early fifties and quite fit. Then she paused and became very serious. In an entirely different tone and attitude she looked at me and said, "I used to be an old man. Then I was a baby, and now I'm a girl."She was thoughtful when she made that comment, serious rather than joking, as though she was remembering something right then and feeling the memory. It was stated very casually. Prior to that, she had just been poking fun at me. But when she said she had been an old woman, then a baby, and now a girl, she said it in a matter-of-fact way, like she was giving me real information, and also telling me, "I used to be like you."Then, like children will, she turned away and began to play with some toy, offering no more information about the time she was an old woman. Perhaps it was only a fleeting memory and there was no more information to be had. She forgot all about her comment, but I never have.

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