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  Ellen Davignon: Lives of Quiet Desperation

New Baby Blues

May 5, 1993

New grandchild alert!  New grandchild alert!

It's a girl: Jamie Lynn Davignon.  Seven pounds, 3 or 4 ounces, give or take.  Black hair, baby-coloured eyes and a little round Norma-knob on the end of her nose.  First child of Norma and Jordan, third grandchild of Dave and Millie Johnstone, eighth grandchild of Phil and Ellen Davignon, fifteenth great-grandchild of Elly Porsild, umpteenth great-grandchild of Grace Edzerza.  And first really major pain-in-the neck of the black dog, Dusty.

Dusty is our third grand-dog.  She was preceded, briefly, by Tucker and Bob Cooper, both of whom went on to new and different careers. And there has been a grand-cat or two.  But Dusty is the only animal in our children's lives who has taken the role of grand-dog to heart.

"We're going to Grandma's," she croons as the truck hangs a left onto Hamilton.  "To Grandma's, to Grandma's, to Grandma's," she sings as they turn off at Heron Drive.  "Grandma, Grandma, Grandma....." she calls, as they drive up to the trailer.  "I'm here, I'm here, I'm here, Grannie, Grannie Grannie..."  And leaping from the back of Jordan's truck,  she whirls and dances and kisses me and knocks me arse over teakettle, the better to kiss me some more, forty pounds of wirey black Lab just loving the Grandma person to death.

Some of the grandkiddies could take lessons. 

It's a bit of a family scandal that I am somewhat of a failure in the grandmother department.  Babies, with eyes squinched tight and hair still smelling slightly amniotic, have been know to reject me out of hand.  "Just put me down," I'm told coldly, as, aching with tender- ness, I gently cradle the new little body against my soft bosom.  "Or better yet, hand me over to me rough, gruff, crabby old Grandfather.  HE knows how to hold a baby!" 

Toddlers view me with suspicion and keep a safe distance between us as they head for their Poppa.  "Get away from me," he snarls, as they claw their way up his coveralls leg and clutch at him with imploring little fingers.  Giggling merrily, they cling to him like lichen, rubbing rosy cheeks against his stubbled one and planting moist kisses on and about his face.  "Darn kids, can't leave a feller alone for a darn minute.  Get away, I tell you.  Mush!!" He pushes at them but it's like trying to keep the tide from coming in and around his knees they surge and billow.  I can but sit and yearn.

And it isn't just my own children's children, either.  Second daughter, Lise's, husband, Nick's, sister, Bernice's, son, Bennie, started crying the moment I walked into their house, nearly ten years ago.  He's about twelve now; cries every time I walk in.  I must remember to bring him a little toy or something next time I visit.  It worked for my older grandchildren.  The only time they cry now, when I come to visit, is if I forget my goodie bag at home.

I don't know what it is.  Probably related to some atavistic thing that makes me forget names and birthdays.  After all, there's some- thing distinctly untrustworthy about a grandmother who must continu- ally be reminded that it's Andrew's birthday on the second of July, and no, it was not Nicole's fourth birthday on the eleventh, it was her fifth.  Or was that Amy's?

"What difference what day they were whelped?" Dusty commiserates. "You can't be expected to remember litter dates.  Poor Grandma. And poor black dog, Dusty, too.  My people don't love me anymore, either, since the Norma person pupped.  Now all she and the Jordan man want to do is sit and yip over that little white Jamie thing and I have to stay in my doghouse."

Not that staying in the doghouse is any real big chore.  Dusty's is the only R-2000 doghouse in the world, complete with electric lights and adorned with a tiny set of moose horns.  Phil should be so lucky to have such a place to go to, on occasion.  Jord built it a couple of years ago, when the black Duster-dog was his pride and joy.  I remem- ber asking him if Dusty ever slept in it.  "Well, of course she does," he said.  "But she has her bath at 7 o'clock and we don't like to put her out while she's still damp so she usually sleeps on my old bath- robe in the porch."

Jord also built an R-2000 cradle for his new baby, the Jamie thing, as Dusty would say.  It's solid oak, with a glider motion.  Took $500 worth of wood, about 40 hours to build, and another 20 hours to sand and finish.  Takes 2 strong men to move it and will hold that kid until she's finished college, even if she turns out to be carrying her Grandmother's genes for extra-large fat cells.

The way they keep carrying her around though, I wonder aloud if she'll ever be put down long enough to sleep in it?

"Probably not," sighs Dusty.  "The way things are going, they'll likely give her a bath when they get tired of playing with her, then put her on the robe in the porch for the night.  At least, until the next litter.  Then, they'll hose us both off and she'll be out in the little house with me."

I put my arm around her withers and pulled her close.  "It's OK, black dog," I said.  "Could be you'd teach Jamie that it's alright to love a Grandma person."

Dusty looked at me speculatively.  "Hmmm, could be I could.  Got any old bones in that goodie bag?  Could be I might need all the help I can get."

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