, Port Arthur, Texas


October 9, 2013

Baby makes everything better

I’m a late bloomer. I was the last of my friends to start dating, get married and have babies.  It makes sense that I would be one of the last in my circle to have a grandbaby, too. I never realized what I was missing during those times when I did without. As soon as our firstborn child entered our world, I got it loud and clear.  Babies make everything better.

When our kids said they were bringing our grandson for a visit this past weekend, it felt like Christmas had come early. Our three month old grandbaby would be eating and sleeping under our roof! The growing family spent one night with us about a month ago while on their way to a meeting, but that doesn’t hold a candle to this. That was business. This is pure pleasure.

The real incentive for the trip, beyond seeing Noni and Papaw, was to introduce the baby to his great grandmother. Reba, better known as Mamaw to the Crouch clan, suffered a fall while visiting us, recently. Now it appears she will need some time to recover.  “You might want to consider driving over here to see her,” we told our son, Daniel and his wife, Lindsey. Everyone agreed it was time for 3 month old Shep to meet his 92- year-old great-grandmother.

Not many people are lucky enough to know their great grandmothers. Even fewer are lucky enough to have one like Reba. I’ve said it before, this woman is the essence of unconditional love. Daniel has been close to her for his entire life. One reason for their connection is that Reba took care of him when he was only 10 weeks old.

When I look at little Shep, I cannot imagine how I was able to leave Daniel behind for even a few days at that age. Given the bond that he and his Mamaw began during our time in South Carolina, I’m glad we went. While Jimmy and I enjoyed Hilton Head’s golf courses, the two of them got to know each other. As I recall, they had so much fun, it was hard for her to give him back upon our return.

That is when he began to learn time honored songs like “Three Little Ducks” and “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” His paternal grandmother has taught him everything from nursery rhymes to Bible verses over the past three decades. Now Daniel wants to share with his son.

So they drove the little guy to our house on Friday night. First thing Saturday morning, we loaded everyone into the SUV and headed for the rehab hospital. Reba lit up when we laid Shep down beside her. I was reminded once again where he got those ocean blue eyes.  She smiled a smile we haven’t seen in weeks. Babies bring out the best in people.

I remember watching the same reaction from my own grandmother. At some point during her late eighties, Mamaw Phelan came to live in a Houston nursing home. My sister Kathy was the only one with a baby living in town at the time. So she brought her brown eyed bundle to visit on a regular basis. As soon as Kathy placed little Paige across her great grandmother’s lap, those geriatric worry lines all but disappeared.

It isn’t just elderly folk whose attitudes improve in “baby land.” Our single son, Will, is delighted with his nephew. No matter how many others are present, the rest of us fade into the background if Shep is in the room.

In last week’s episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” one of the main characters was spiraling out of control, emotionally.  His colleague who had given birth the day before, urged him to “pick up the baby”. At first, the frantic friend resisted. He was far too important and way too busy for such a mundane task, but she insisted. Ultimately, he complied. The moment the babe was in his arms, he felt peace.

Perhaps it’s just osmosis. Or maybe it’s The Spirit. Do we need to know the reason? Babies make us better. That’s good enough for me.

Donia Caspersen Crouch was raised in Southeast Texas and lives in Austin. Contact her at

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