“You’ve got yourself one little spitfire”.
We’d had more than a few people tell us that after we adopted our then 12 year old daughter Nicole from Russia.
Feisty, she definitely was.
And feisty, she still is today.
That’s one of the things I love about her.
And so did my husband, Richard, always forgiving her with endless love for each teen age tribulation she’d manage to unearth.
And maybe because we knew from day one there was another side to our daughter.
A softer, gentler side.
One of great creativity and beauty.
And capable of so much love.
When Richard and I first arrived in Russia bearing gifts before the adoption proceedings, Nicole was prepared to present us with several gifts also.
She’d cross stitched several perfect pieces and had sewn for us a beautiful potholder.
Her caregivers had taught her well.
But once Nicole moved to America, she embraced her teen age years in a new, fast world of video games and technology.
Nicole’s fiber art skills were parked in favor of the Back Street Boys, cell phones, and definitely pushing some of her parents’ buttons.
Yet my husband and I knew that softer side with its creativity was still resting deep underneath the missed Friday night curfews.
Unfortunately Nicole only knew my husband for six years before his dementia settled in.
But still her growing love for him was in full bloom by the time my husband’s illness worsened.
One year ago today she held her father’s hand, stroking it and smiling as Richard rested in a hospice bed on his final Christmas Eve birthday.
Ever thankful she was for the gift of his short rally in cognition for a few hours. Richard even tried to talk to her some, smiling back up at Nicole’s pretty face.
I like to think that smile may have ignited Nicole’s creativity again.
Taking a short break outside that afternoon she immediately began to sculpt smiling faces in snowbanks as a response to my husband’s grin, spreading joy to all looking on.
Yesterday Nicole, her fiancé, and my grandchildren celebrated an early Christmas with me. As we exchanged gifts, I pulled out an extra one for her on behalf of my late husband.
It was a bag full of pannettone (Italian sweetbread), pelmeni (Russian dumplings), and Russian chocolates.
My husband and daughter always shared a passion for the same foods, especially around the holidays.
Nicole smiled, as she opened the gift and card, her eyes growing wide and misty when she saw the chocolates.
And then my daughter gave me my gifts.
Her bag included a pair of a sparkling red slippers she’d crocheted along with a beautiful Christmas potholder.
My husband would have smiled at the sight.
I sure did.
Nicole also whispered that she’d purchased a child’s crochet kit for Christmas for my granddaughter.
The sweet seven year old so wants to learn the craft, and be just like her mom.
I smiled again.
It seems my once little spitfire has now grown into a blessed flame of creativity, great warmth, and such incredible love.
How lucky am I.