Saturday, December 11, 2010

Waiting On A Wish


As we near the holiday season, we are reminded of the simple childhood innocence of believing. It is really amazing to look into the face of a child who believes, whole-heartedly, in something that, as adults, we no longer do.

I was reminded of this child-like faith while spending the day with my granddaughter, Aurora.

It seems like it was only yesterday when our first grandchild was welcomed into this world. My husband and I have been fortunate to be involved in every milestone of her young life...from her birth, first smile, first steps, first day of school.

And now she is going to be 9 years old ! The time is flying by, and with every passing year, she loses a  little bit more of that childhood innocence that I love.

But one day, I had the privilege of watching her faith wane and then be restored .The day Aurora had to wait on a wish.

When trying to determine what to do with little Miss Aurora for her big "7" birthday, we decided to cash in on some Whale Watching tickets I had purchased online and treat Aurora, and her Uncle Justin, with a day on the Pacific.

We  had picked Aurora up the night before her birthday. We had decided to keep the birthday event a secret; something that just drove Aurora to the brink !!!  During dinner that evening, she had constantly begged  for  clues about what we would be doing for her birthday. So,  I caved in and gave her a clue:

This "something" was something that none of us had EVER done before !!!

After some thought, Aurora asked me if we were all going skydiving!!!

I corkscrewed my face into a look of disbelief and said, "Aurora, do you really think Grandpa would make you jump out of a plane? That would be dangerous!"

"Of course not" she said. "Besides, I'd wear a PARACHUTE !!! Really, do I look stupid????" this point, I wonder, do I laugh or threaten to wash that little mouth out with soap for addressing her grandma like that! Counting to ten...I laugh at three...and decide to let her parents do the disciplining.

Another clue..

Justin's glass of water...

Another clue...

The shaker of salt on the table...

NO! We are not taking our granddaughter to Margaritaville

All through dinner, she attempted several guesses as to her surprise. The entire drive home that night and even after we tucked her in for bed she was begging for more clues. But, she was just going to have to wait for morning.

Aurora was up early the next morning, and we all dressed and headed out the door for our destination; the Pacific Ocean. Two hours and several clue requests later, we arrived at Dana Point Harbor with plenty of time to spare before our tour, and although Aurora still had no clue as to what the day held for her, she was so excited to see all of the beautiful boats in the marina.

As we parked and strolled the boardwalk, she repeatedly let us know how badly she wanted to go on a boat. I downplayed the idea as we walked the storefronts. We window shopped, stopped to pet the dogs out for a walk with their masters, we watched a sea lion play in the water...and every few minutes, Aurora would sigh and hint about going on a boat.

As we were leaning on the boardwalk railing watching the sea lion play, I asked Aurora, "If you could pick ANY BOAT from all these pretty boats, which one would you want to go on?"  She thought for a moment and I watched her size up all the boats in the harbor. There were million dollar yachts, the random aluminum dingy, fishing vessels, sail boats, open bow and cabin cuddy runabouts.

After a moment, she had reached her decision. "There, that one" she said, thoughtfully pointing to a large, average-looking  white boat with blue trim. There was nothing striking or eye-catching about this boat. I was shocked that she had picked this one, truthfully, considering her choices. The name on the back said  Dana Pride.

"Well", I told her, " I don't know who that boat belongs to, but if we meet the skipper,  we'll have to ask him if we can ride on his boat." Every man that walked down the dock ramp was a potential skipper and I would encourage her to ask him if the Dana Pride was his boat. I figured this would serve as a distraction as the minutes ticked away and we neared our tour time. She only asked a few potential skippers before turning her attention back to the frolicking sea lion.

While she was watching the sea lion play, I left her with Grandpa and Justin to walk a few doors down to the storefront where I was to pick up the whale watching tickets. I gave the clerk my name and voucher for the online purchase, and was so surprised when the clerk handed me four purple tickets to board none other than the Dana Pride! Of all the boats in the marina that day, Aurora  had picked the very boat we were ticketed for !

I returned to the family perched on the railing  to find Aurora  longingly staring at the boat she wanted to go on. As I joined her, she noticed some pennies in the water and pointed them out to me, thinking  it was funny that people had dropped  their money there in the water.

As the men of the family relocated to a nearby bench, I  explained to Aurora that the pennies were in the water because people had made wishes with them;  kind of like when you blow out your birthday candles or wish upon a star. I sent her over to Grandpa to get a penny and then encouraged Aurora to make a wish to go on the boat she had picked. That's an easy move towards a "grandma greatness" moment, especially since I knew what the outcome would be.

Aurora got a penny and returned to the railing. "I really, really want to go on that boat!" she said. And down went the penny. "What now, Grandma?"
"Now we wait"

And wait, and wait, and wait we did while we watched the Dana Pride deckhands clean every inch of  her. And then,  to Aurora's dismay the boat pulled out of the dock and left. After a few panicked moments, I realized that the boat was merely going to the fuel dock across the marina and would return. But Aurora was heartbroken.

As another attempt at distraction, we passed the next several minutes walking along more storefronts, watching other boats dock and leave. After we made full circle and returned to the dock railing, we even teased Aurora that her birthday surprise was a trip to the fish market where all of the fresh catches of the day were taken and we were going to gut fish! Hooray!

Needless to say, that birthday prospect didn't go over well, and Aurora distanced herself from Jim & I on the boardwalk railing. She pouted and stared down at her penny.

Unbeknownst to me, an older woman had been observing our interaction with Aurora. The woman had a sweet disposition and a deep southern accent had become interested in our little family moment.

Have you ever seen Nanny McPhee? An odd character that just shows up from out of nowhere and seems to be out of place?

That's how this woman was with her big floppy hat; looking like she was better suited for the front porch of a southern plantation while sipping on a mint julep. The woman shared that she had been listening to our conversation and just knew something was in store for that little girl, but she sure hoped it wasn't cleaning fish guts! She wouldn't want to clean fish guts either, she said. I laughed with her and told her the real plans for the day; whale watching. I also shared with the woman about how Aurora wanted to go on the boat that had gone away and about the tickets in my hand.

The woman joined Aurora and started talking to her while they stood along the railing; looking straight out at the water. Before long they were actively chatting about the day and how Aurora wanted to go on a boat and how she had waited so long for her wish and now the boat was gone.

As I listened to them talk, an idea came to me, and I suggested that maybe what we needed for her wish, a wish SO big, was a NICKEL !!! Maybe a penny just wasn't enough!

"Grandpa, give me a nickel, give me a nickel ! Please!" Aurora cried.

Jim came to the railing, and knelt alongside Aurora. He pulled the change from his pocket and he had one nickel left for her wish. While she plucked the nickel from the palm of Jim's hand, I slipped the purple whale watching tickets into Jim's shirt pocket.

Aurora took that shiney nickel and held it so tight and closed her eyes for that wish. I then told her to take the nickel to the lady and ask her to wish on it too! Maybe it would help.

The woman happily agreed to wish on the nickel with her. She took that nickel and blew on it for luck and started wishing on that nickel with such ferver I thought I was at a Southern Baptist Revival !! The woman said, out loud, that if she could wish for anything in the world that day, it would be for this little girl to go on the boat she had wished for! And together,  they threw that nickel in the water and we all watched  as it flickered in the sunlight all the way to the bottom, landing in the sand.

"Now, child, you wait" said the woman.

And wait we did, the woman, Aurora, and I.
Aurora crossed her fingers...and waited.

Aurora crossed her fingers on both hands...and waited.

And before long, the boat started back towards us! You could feel the excitement as Aurora was beginning to believe in the power of her wish !!!

She asked her grandpa if he had noticed the boat coming back. I asked Jim if he believed in her wish and if he felt the wish coming true and he said that he did !!! I asked Jim what was poking out of the top of his pocket?  Jim reached into his pocket, pulled out four slips of purple paper, and  handed them to Aurora.

Aurora took the pieces of paper from Jim, turned the tickets over and over in her hand, not knowing what she had.  I asked her to read the words on the front of the pieces of paper.

"Dana Pride", she said without a change of expression . Hmmm, she didn't get it yet.
" Dana Pride" ... still nothing.

"Aurora, what's the name of the boat you wished for?" I asked her.


When the realization hit her, she was grinning from ear to ear and so excited! She was going to go on the boat she had wished for!

When Aurora turned around to show the lady who had helped her with the wish, she shared in the excitement with a wink and a smile and then she was gone! It was like she had simply vanished ! No kidding...I never even saw her leave.

We boarded the boat and went whale watching, having a wonderful time (until the Dramamine wore off).
No whales were seen that day, but there were plenty of dolphin and an endless supply of smiles and memories.

It was a birthday ( and a wish day ) to remember for a long time to come. We're going to have a hard time out-doing that day!

Aurora will always believe in that nickel wish...even if I had to help her find her faith in believing a little bit along the way. She will believe until she gets older and starts dealing with the harsh realities of life...she'll stop believing in wishes, and shooting stars, and yes, Virginia, even Santa Claus.
But until then, I'm going to enjoy every little bit of magic I can share with her.

Grandma loves you, baby girl.

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