Our Graduate

Two weekends ago, we made the trip back to my hometown to watch my grandniece graduate.

Jessie’s mama, Karla, is only four years younger than me and was always more like my sister than a niece.

So, when Jessie was born, we rushed to the hospital, excited to welcome the first “grand” baby into our family.

Jessie newborn

She was just an hour old when I snapped this photo. The moment she wrapped her tiny, perfect little fingers around mine, I was a goner.

Growing up, Karla and I both loved the name Jessica. When it came time to give this sweet baby girl a name, Karla went with my suggestion of Jessica Rose, making my already sappy, syrupy heart even more melted.

As most new moms are with new babies, Karla was hesitant to leave her, but I was the first person to babysit Jessie.

She was just a few months old when Karla, in need of a break, came over to bake Christmas cookies with me. While her mama took a much needed long soak in my bathtub, I cradled Jessie on one arm and rolled out sugar cookies with the other.

Jessie cowgirl

This amazing little girl had both Captain Cavedweller and I loopy over her from the very start.

Jessie Christmas 1

A wiggly, giggly ball of energetic sunshine, my little sweetie-pie was such fun to play with (and spoil).

Jessie Easter

She let me play with her hair and dress her like a little princess and I think we both enjoyed  every minute of it!

Then work led us to move away from our beloved Jessie-girl. Soon, she had a younger brother and sister and moved into the role of leader of her siblings.

From a distance, we watched her mature and grow into a lovely young woman we are so happy to know.

To sit in the gym where I had graduated (we won’t talk about how many years ago), and watch her accept her diploma was such a wonderful experience.

Grandpa and JEssie

And even better, was to see the caring, loving way she interacted with family and friends, just like she is here with my dad. It fills us with pride to see what a great young lady she’s become.

We’re super excited Jessie is planning to attend college in our neck of the woods. Anytime I want to see her, it will only be a 45-minute drive.

In her graduation gift, I tucked away a few words of wisdom learned in the school of hard knocks.

I was inspired to compile this list after reading the entries sent in for my May newsletter contest about what advice people would give their 17-year-old self. This is what I’d share with my youthful self, if I had the chance.

words for the grad

For those of you who might be interested, here is a printable version Words of wisdom for a graduate.

I can’t wait to see where Jessie’s adventures will take her. Wherever she goes, a piece of my heart will tag right along with her.

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