Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

As the day of my granddaughter's birth approached, readers, friends in the community, people I've known my entire life, relatives and the now-adult children who grew up with mine sent me good wishes, prayers and blessings.

I felt the momentum building as I packed the car and set out last Tuesday morning for Salem. The wind was at my back and the blue sky and a bright sun were good omens leading me north.

The drive itself was a gift. The fall colors suggested what a glorious time of the year this is to be alive and clear skies provided magnificent ocean views for the coastal drive, reminding me why I live where I do.

As usual, I stopped in Bandon. But this time, two unusual events occurred. One I will tell you about next week. The other was a heartfelt visit with a dear woman I have not seen in years. Mary resides in a quintessential rustic beach house at Bandon's South Jetty where she has lived for nearly 50 years. We met about 15 years ago and keep in touch with notes and Christmas cards. When I drive through Bandon, I swing by her house, but she is rarely home. She is a potter who does volunteer work and travels often to visit her family.

But Mary was in her garden Tuesday and we were able to catch up on each other's lives. Although I was in a hurry to get to Salem, I was content to spend time with this grandmother who shares many of my passions. When it came time to go, Mary wished me a safe journey, saying my life would never be the same once I had a grandchild. She waved good-bye from her garden and for a moment she looked like my mother.

When Kayla Grace finally arrived Friday morning, after a stressful labor that lasted more than a day, I forgot what I was supposed to do or say. I was exhausted and unsteady after staying up all night. It was an unsettling night spent in a waiting room with uncomfortable chairs and muffled television and cell phone noises.

She was in her mother's arms when I first saw her, wearing a cap and wrapped up, so I could not see much. But what I did see was awesome: Before my eyes my son became a father. Dana had his eyes fixed on his daughter. I knew then that he would never take his eyes off her.

I was left alone holding Kayla when she was about 3 hours old. She opened her eyes and tried to focus so I put my face just a few inches from hers so she could see me. She stared at me with a frown. I told her that she had nothing to worry about. I searched for familiarity in her face - traits of her father perhaps. But what I saw was a trace of my mother, Rose.

Dana, Holly and Kayla are home now and settling into a routine. I'd like to be there, but I know this is a special time for their new family and I want to give them that.

Kayla has her kaleidoscope and gifts from the beach to make her curious about where her Grandma lives. There will be more tales to share in the months and years ahead.

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate's publisher, at mthomas@triplicate.com, 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.