Remembering Grace Through Mandy’s Eyes: written by Mandy ‘Nonny’ Gelms (Grace’s nanny and friend)
I first met Grace when I answered a newspaper add looking for a CPR certified nanny. I went for an interview with Erica but we could hardly get in a word. Grace was bringing be her toys and wanting to play play play. Erica explained that she had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor and they had no idea what to expect for her future. There could be seizures, rages and who knew what else. Erica said if I wanted to that they would like me to be her sitter. After meeting that precious girl the obvious answer was yes.
When I first started watching Grace she was a playful 1.5 years old full of innocence and joy, she did have seizures and rages as well but it was something we all learned to handle. I remember when her hair was finally long enough to put up in pig tails, she was SO proud of them. When Sarah came along Grace showed her mothering side as well as how smart she was. When Sarah was old enough to play with the toys if Grace saw Sarah with something she wanted instead of going and taking it she would find something she KNEW Sarah would want. Grace would sit in front of Sarah playing with the item until Sarah dropped what she had to reach for it… Once she dropped the toy grace would smirk and slyly take it. Grace was an awesome helper, when Sarah would cry Grace would bring in different things to try and help soothe her.
After her surgery life was a daily struggle for grace but she was always happy and smiling. Not many people were allowed in graces world, the circle of people she trusted so I want to share the Grace I knew. When she finally came home she was in therapy to get back to walking and running and playing. We discovered Grace had a talent for yoga and man did she love how it felt. She would do her pose and then offer a hand to Sarah or myself so she could help us do our pose.
One way I got grace to walk around outside was “rock hunting” we would walk around to find the shiny and smoothest rocks. Grace would carry a bag or a purse to keep her treasures in and I used my pockets. I was always finding rocks in my washer and I thought for sure that I would over time end up stealing the whole driveway. Grace would go around picking up rocks and moving them around between her fingers and if it wasn’t smooth in all the right places or the right color she would hand it to me and say “for you nonny”. We used to play dress up and put on fairy wings and fly thru the house.
When Grace started preschool she would come home and tell me all about her “hard work” and her friends. Grace was such a special girl in my life; I think we were brought together on purpose. She taught me things and showed me a love so unconditional and sweet that she could melt any bad day away with her hug and smile. She was the BEST hugger.
When Grace found out I had “a baby in my tummy” she wanted to kiss and hug my tummy everyday she saw me. Grace always knew I was having a girl and when I would ask what I should name my baby if it was a girl she would tell me “Grace”.
I miss our walks holding hands and talking and singing songs the whole time. I miss her always winning the guess what I love you game no matter how she was feeling at the time. I miss her calling me nonny and saying I love you. Grace loved even when she was having a bad day. I miss her sweet smile with her big girl teeth, making jewelry and playing games.
I miss hearing her say “morning nonny!”….I will always have her in the biggest part of my heart and I won’t go a day without missing her.
I Love you Grace. I’m so blessed to have had you in my life.