When Valkyrie died, I failed to mention that in addition to her four girls, she also fostered an infant named Pauline. Pauline Lucille.
Pauline’s mother wasn’t in a position to raise her, and when Pauline’s grandfather asked Val if she could care for Pauline indefinitely, she didn’t hesitate. Val loved babies. Heck, she’d already reared 4 of them.
Pauline absolutely thrived in Val’s care. Born in a situation where all the odds were stacked against her, she hit all of her baby milestones, and then some. Val’s girls were always interacting with her and anywhere Val was, Pauline was always on her hip. Val had a habit of just randomly telling her kids she loved them. It didn’t matter if she was in the middle of telling me what a crappy day she had, if one of her kids came running up to hug her, she’d always say “I love you”. She was no different with Pauline. She would bring her in to the store and of course, I’d go all nuts over her, and Val would shower her in kisses and tell her she loved her. And she did. Loved her as if she was her own child.
Then Valkyrie died. And Pauline was placed back in to the care of her grandfather. This was not a bad thing as her grandfather loved her dearly. But he also worked out of town a lot for his construction company. This meant that he would have to find another caretaker at least while he traveled. With Pauline, of course, there were people jumping at the chance, including us. We loved Pauline. A few weeks ago, he found out he would be traveling again and found that none of Pauline’s regular caretakers were available during the time he would be gone.
He approached Dusty asking if he knew anyone who might want to look after Pauline. We were the first people he mentioned. Steve called yesterday. Of course we said “yes”.
We picked her up from her daytime babysitter this afternoon and she’ll be with us until we leave next Saturday for Anchorage. By then, one of her caretakers will be back.
Pauline is probably one of the happiest, most well-adjusted babies, I think I’ve ever seen. One would think that with all of the shuffling around the village she’s had to endure since Val’s death, she’d be somewhat traumatized, but she doesn’t seem affected. We spent this evening playing with her, feeding her, bathing her, and changing diapers. We are in awe of how amazing this little girl is. She isn’t finicky with food, loves the dogs and cat (and is very gentle with them) and has yet to make a fuss over anything. She did whimper a bit before falling asleep in my arms but what’s a little whimpering before bedtime?
Howard and I are still amazed at what an easy baby she seems to be so far: So adaptable and not at all freaked out by her new and temporary surroundings.
And I honestly think it’s because for the first 10 months of her life, she was in the care of a woman who gave more love than some kids receive in an entire lifetime. I often wonder if she sees Val in her dreams. When she’s in deep thought while drinking from her bottle and reaching up to the sky with her hands, I wonder if somehow she sees Val watching over her.
Tonight while laying in bed with her, stroking her hair, while she settled in to slumber, I told her the story of a woman named Valkyrie who loved her like her own daughter. A woman who very possibly molded her in to the happy, bubbly, adaptable little person she is now. Who very much intended to be her forever mother. And who no doubt would give anything if she could be back with her and her other children if it were at all possible.
I knew she couldn’t understand me. It makes me sad that she’ll never really know Val. It reminds of the line out of Steel Magnolias where Malynn cries out “How will that baby ever know how wonderful she was?”
I think of that all the time. I just hope that her other caretakers remind her that there once was a lady named Valkyrie who was ready to give her the world.