Poems & Essays

03 Jul

Winter’s Gift

General/Column 26 Responses

To say that you and I are not soul mates, Old Man Winter, would be an understatement of absurd proportions. My soul, which yearns only for warmth and sunshine and lightness of being, feels nothing but oppression under your dark, brooding skies. And yet, in one of life’s more amusing ironies, I now find myself deeply indebted to you for a granting me gift as gracious as any I’ve ever known.

It was in your steel-cold gaze this year, that I found my path back to motherhood after becoming a mother of a mother for the first time. Your harshness, the very thing from which my spirit instinctively recoils and retreats, ensured I would be a mighty protector of the tiny one in my care. After all, an infant needs little protection from a gentle summer breeze, a wrap of sheerest gossamer will surely do. But protection from a merciless New England winter, well, that’s a different matter altogether. For that, the fierce defense of a mother—or a mother’s mother—is needed.

The first moment my daughter’s daughter was entrusted to my arms, I began fashioning the fortress, weaving together strong and sinewy fibers of love and nurturance, secure enough to withstand your toughest onslaught. And you didn’t disappoint, Old Man. Within days, you unleashed not one, but two genuine “Nor’easters” on us, but that only served to drive the tiny one to me closer still. The more bitter your temperatures grew, the more tightly my arms sheltered her. The stronger your icy winds gusted, the further she and I nestled down, snug in our cocoon of blankets on the couch.

For hours on end, trees branches thrashed violently to and fro, and fat, wet snowflakes slapped hard and loud against the window panes, but inside our fortress, all was a hushed calm, punctuated only by the soft, rhythmic breathing of contented infant slumber. For eight weeks I lived in this magical world within a world, a chrysalis of transformation.

Now you have largely packed your bags and headed on your way, Old Man, and for the first time in my life I feel a bittersweetness at our parting. Our joint work here is done. It’s time for both of us to loosen our grip. Just like the tender green shoots pushing through the soil in the front yard, sturdy little arms and legs are now stretching out, kicking off the confines of swaddling. The little baby-bird mouth that once searched blindly only for milk now opens wide for cereal and mashed bananas and other growing-up food. The full glory of spring is nearly here for all of God’s precious creatures.

So, I must thank you as you go. Within your forced confines, I retraced my steps back to the some of my happiest days of early motherhood. You gave me the chance to love again as a young mother loves, not with gift cards and flower deliveries, but with showers of kisses, squeezes and rocking to sleep. My baby has not been a baby for more than thirty years, but the yearning to cradle her in my arms never diminished. For years I ached to feel again the fullness of heart that only a full lap can bring. And, Old Man Winter, you gave me that and more. Huddled together with my new granddaughter on the couch, decades somehow mysteriously collapsed and I was once again holding my own infant daughter. In loving my granddaughter, I was able to experience loving my daughter all over again.

Next November when a brisk wind sends the last leaves scattering to the ground, I’ll still turn up my collar and scurry inside to the heat of the fire. But, not before I turn my face skyward, to gray and threatening clouds, and send you a knowing wink for all that you have given me. Because a mother—or the mother of a mother—never forgets.


Lee Gaitan has worn many hats in her 25 years as a professional communicator, from public relations writer and television host to stand-up comedienne and educator. She is the author of two books, Falling Flesh Just Ahead, and the recently released My Pineapples Went to Houston—Finding the Humor in My Dashed Hopes, Broken Dreams and Plans Gone Outrageously Awry. She has also authored a chapter in the bestselling book, The Divinity of Dogs, and is a blogger for The Huffington Post, Midlife Boulevard and The Good Men Project. She lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband and dog. Connect with her at www.leegaitan.com; https://www.facebook.com/mypineappleswenttohouston; www.twitter.com/LGPineapple.Winter

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Would you like to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!

  1. Haralee

    July 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Absolutely lovely!

    • Lee Gaitan

      July 18, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      Thank you so much, Haralee! I absolutely hate winter weather, but this one was such a gift..

  2. michelle combs

    July 17, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    This is stunning. Thank you so much for a wonderful story.

    • Lee Gaitan

      July 18, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      Thank you so much, Michelle! You are such an amazing writer and I know you totally get the joy of having the grands to spoil!

  3. Stephanie D. Lewis

    July 17, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Incredibly beautiful metaphor!

    • Lee Gaitan

      July 18, 2017 at 6:40 pm

      Thank you, my sweet, crazy soul sister!

  4. Laurie Stone

    July 17, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Lee, You always get me where I live. So beautiful and heartfelt. What a lucky daughter and granddaughter you have.

    • Lee Gaitan

      July 18, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      That goes double for me back at ya! I adore your writing! And this baby has me completely in her thrall!

  5. Leanne | crestingthehill

    July 18, 2017 at 12:58 am

    Beautifully written Lee x

    • Lee Gaitan

      July 18, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Thank you, Leanne! We “perrenials” still have a lot of life to experience and write about, right? 😉

  6. Lori

    July 18, 2017 at 1:23 am

    This is beautiful! I can’t wait until I’m a grandmother and feel that baby love again.

    • Lee Gaitan

      July 18, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      Thank you, Lori! It’s as overwhelmingly joyful as everyone tells you it will be–and just think, Louie will be an uncle!

  7. Jennifer

    July 18, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    This is a beautiful story Lee. I love how the storms you hate brought you the joy you needed.

    • Lee Gaitan

      July 18, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      Thank you, Jennifer! if you only knew how much I have come to detest winter and snow (although I grew up in it and lived in it for years as an adult), you would really know how much I love this baby! 😉 Despite my extra layers of midlife fat, I can’t handle the cold anymore!

  8. Ginny

    July 18, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    As there is no chance for these relationships in this lifetime, I get to live vicariously when I read this beautiful story…thank you.

    • Lee Gaitan

      July 20, 2017 at 11:22 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment. Truth be told, I’m living vicariously even as a grandparent–all the joy, but only a fraction of the diaper changes as the parent have!

  9. Molly Stevens

    July 20, 2017 at 10:01 am

    What a gorgeous piece of writing and sentiment, Lee. I have a love/hate relationship with winter but the image of bonding with a grandchild against the harshest of elements is beautiful.

    • Lee Gaitan

      July 20, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      Thank you, Molly. You know I’m sooo over cold weather, but it was worth braving it for this one-of-a-kind experience with little Nora. XO, my friend.

  10. Maria

    July 21, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Beautifully written. This story touched my heart.

    • Lee Gaitan

      July 24, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      Thank you so much for the sweet comment. I’m so glad it touched you. XO

  11. Dave Jaffe

    July 21, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    “You gave me the chance to love again as a young mother loves…” Such insights, Lee! Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece. Two years ago, I stood on the shores of the Pacific, a spiteful, cold wind whipping in, sheltering my two-year-old granddaughter who’d burrowed into my chest for warmth, thinking, “Thanks for this, ocean!” Yeah, grandpas feel it, too.

  12. Lee Gaitan

    July 24, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    These little pumpkins take us back in a whole new way, don’t they, Dave? Second and better chances to love again–better because we can hand them back! 😉

  13. Debbie

    September 15, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    This is just beautiful! I can’t wait to hold a child of my daughter as this sums up exactly how I know I will feel.

  14. Silly Mummy

    September 15, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    So beautifully written!

  15. Carol Cassara

    September 16, 2017 at 1:50 am

    Oh, Lee, such a splendid piece. So enjoyed reading it.

  16. Anna R Palmer

    September 18, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    This is gorgeous. It wove me into the feeling of being a grandmother. Which seems dreamy.


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