Princess Fairy

Marva, the Princess Fairy

My husband had only time to call my name before he fell back on the pillows and his heart stopped. Standing alone beside his hospital bed, I knew he’d already embarked upon his eternal life. Though stunned, I felt wrapped in a kind of peace that held sorrow at bay. I spent the rest of that night at my son’s house. As the hours of wakefulness passed, I lay there imagining what wonders Bob might be experiencing. I was more in awe than in grief…that would come later as the reality of my aloneness sank in.

My children were out of the nest. Not many of my friends or family had yet passed this way…how could they understand? The house was quiet except for our old Irish setter who missed Bob, too, and let me cry into her soft coat. But God had someone special in mind to help fill the empty place in my heart…a little brown sprite named Marva.

My son had been engaged to Marva’s mother for several months. They’d already planned their wedding for June. I’d been slow to recognize the budding romance, probably because of the differences in their cultures. When I realized they were serious, I invited mother and daughter to meet me for lunch so we could get better acquainted. They stepped out of their car. The two-and a half-year-old spied me across the parking lot and flew to meet me, a dozen tiny braids bobbing about her head. “Grandma!” she cried, and launched herself into my arms.

Grandma! I wasn’t her Grandma! But as those little arms went about my neck and she snuggled against me, suddenly the name seemed like the sweetest word on earth.

Rob and Lydia’s wedding went on as planned. Gratefully, I filled my days with making curtains for their house and helping wherever I could. When they left for their honeymoon, just a month after Bob’s death, Marva stayed with me and Sharon Dog. We baked cookies together, we washed dishes together, we drew and cut out paper dolls. I was taking a crash course in Grandma-hood, but Marva was a natural.

Marva knew that Halloween meant costumes and candy. “What are you going to be?” I asked her.

“A princess fairy,” she replied.

So her mother sewed her a gossamer gown of pink, with long puffed sleeves and layers and layers in the skirt. She wore a sparkly tiara, and fluttery, see-through wings. Her daddy made a star-tipped wand as a finishing touch. Marva loved the dress. She wore it to church; she wore it to town. She wore it out. But by that time, she’d made herself a place in my heart that she will never outgrow.


Little girl with dancing eyes,
You stole into my lonely heart.
You wrapped my heartstrings
round you, Princess Fairy,
As if you’d lived within it
from the start.

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