My girl Ella was born almost 18 years ago, on a hot and rainy day in Winnipeg. She arrived unexpectedly two weeks early, the day before her brother’s third birthday. She came so quickly at the end of a short labour, I had no time for painkillers. That was Ella’s first gift to me – to show me that I could do more than I thought I could.
Ella was almost ‘Stella’, save for last-minute negotiations with her dad. We called her ‘Little Chicken’ when she was a baby because she had such skinny arms and legs. She had a perfectly round head, curly hair, and the biggest, brownest eyes. Her eyes are framed by eyelashes so long that they scrape the lenses of her glasses.
She spent her early years in Winnipeg. Her dad and I split up, and I took Ella and her brother (ages 4 and 7) to Norway in an attempt to, well, get my shit together. We ended up moving back to Edmonton and Ella began her last half year of kindergarten. We lived in a small rental house with bad wallpaper. Ella had to go to before and after school daycare and she secretly hated it. They made her drink milk, which she despised, and nap when she wasn’t tired. Not like she ever complained. Ella was, and still is, a quiet and soft-spoken girl. I wonder if she caught her reserved nature from our time in Norway. (Norway, the land of the proper and the reserved). She has a vast and unknown interior life.
I got remarried, and had my third child, Aaron, which bumped Ella out of her birth order of youngest child. However, she still will always be my baby girl. Her stepdad encouraged her soccer career, and we became immersed in the world of competitive soccer for five years, until she retired two years ago. I’ll never forget the week Ella got not just one, not two, but three hat tricks and Mike got so excited that he grabbed other dads’ baseball hats off their heads and threw them onto the field. Ella was a smart soccer player – a true playmaker -and I do miss watching her play.
Ella had a stint working at Dairy Queen, and she told us all the funny customer stories, like the guy who brought in his own banana for the staff to make him a banana split. Ella got her driver’s license on her first try, the very first day it snowed in October two years ago. She had never driven in the snow before, and she was so nervous that she couldn’t stop shaking after her exam. But she showed up and did it, even though she was afraid, and that’s what counts.
I feel very grateful to have Ella, my girl in a family of boys. We often go for Starbucks runs – she has a white chocolate mocha frappuccino, and I have a hazelnut macchiato. We walk around bookstores, and share trashy gossip magazines. She has stolen many of my cardigans and shoes. Sometimes we sneak off to the spa for a pedicure. We frequent sushi and pho restaurants. We also take regular Chick Weekends away. We have gone to Winnipeg, Christmas in November in Jasper, Seattle and most recently Chicago. I love these trips and am scheming to steal her away again.
Ella had her graduation from Grade 12 this weekend. The girl experience of graduating high school is quite different from the boy experience. (Her older brother simply rented a suit and shoes and that was that). The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of dress shopping, dress hemming, shoe shopping, earring shopping, hair appointments, and makeup appointments. As you can see from the photo, the effort was all worth it. (She looks just as gorgeous when she rolls out of the bed in the morning. Although she doesn’t know how beautiful she is – this is the great travesty of youth).
Ella still has the most lovely brown doe eyes, a perfect heart shaped face and long, wavy hair. She is a beautiful young lady, inside and out. Get to know her, and she will open up and show you her wicked sense of humour. She’s smart as a whip, very clever with words, and has zoomed through high school with super grades.
She’s been asked a million times what she’s doing after high school. Now she finally has an answer. After taking six months off to work and travel, she will attend the nursing program at a local university. She especially loves biology and chemistry, and her little brother Aaron, so this choice makes sense to me. When asked why she chose nursing, she says simply: it is because of Aaron.
I know that my girl will be a kind and compassionate nurse. She has the perfect combination of smarts and a big open heart. Very soon I will get to share Ella with the world, and the world will be lucky to have her. xo