Erica Ann LongieTweet
By Dr. Erich Longie
August 28, 2010, was a sad day. My granddaughter and namesake, Erica Ann Longie, moved out of my home. I loaded up her, her boyfriend, their baby daughter and all their stuff into my Suburban and drove them to Minot, ND where he (the boyfriend) planned to attend ND Job Corps.
I knew I was going to feel somewhat sad when it came time to leave her in Minot, but I wasn’t expecting the flood of emotions that went through me as I gave her a hug and said goodbye. I think my tears embarrassed her, and made her feel bad because she said, “I’ll be back papa,” and quickly turned away.
I don’t know why I became so emotional. Actually, I sort of looked forward to her and her boyfriend moving out. It gave me my space back, and an old bachelor like me needs my space. Also I knew as long as they lived with me their lives would remain stagnant. So in a way I was relieved to see them go.
Where did all my emotion come from? Maybe it is because she was my first and only grandchild for almost 10 years, and during those years her and I became especially close. Not to mention the fact that she is my namesake. The first time I held her I swear I traveled back in time 20 years and was holding her mother Angie instead. Angie was my one and only daughter. When Angie was a teenager she would often get mad at me so I would tell her, “But you’re my favorite daughter my girl.” Pouting, she would reply, “I’m your only daughter.”
Anyway, back to my story. Erica had always spent a lot on time with me. From the time she was baby up until she moved in with me she was always close by. She had actually lived with me off and on for a couple of years before she moved in for good several months before moving to Minot. I think it was pre-determined that she would end up living with me. When she was around 7 – 8 years old she told her mom, “When I reach sixteen I am going to live with Papa.”
I would often take her on trips with me during her preteen years. When we would stop at a gas station I would buy each of us a pop, but we would always share a bag of chips together. One day, when she was about 12 years old, we had stopped a gas station and she asked me, “Can I have my own bag of chips, Papa?” I smiled when she said that because I knew it was sign that she was “growing up” and it was just a matter of time that I would “lose” her to hanging out with girls her own age and to chasing boys.
Probably the primary reason my Erica will remain close to my heart is this; when my son Joel went to the Spirit World she was eight years old. Even at that young age she seem to sense the profound impact it had on my life. She made sure I was never alone. She came with me on my numerous trips to Joel’s grave, and when I went walking in the evenings she walked with me. She was often with me when no one else was around- never saying much, but her quiet respectful presence was comforting. She would write Joel’s name in various formats, always with hearts around his name, some with his date of birth and the day he passed away. She would write short notes to him telling him how much we loved and missed him, and she was only eight years old at the time. Those were tough times, when I cried she did not say anything but her quiet loving presence helped me tremendously.
I miss my granddaughter and namesake very much but I am glad she has a strong and independent nature that allows her to go out on her own at a very early age. It may take her awhile but eventually she will get established and then I will go and visit her and stay at her house. Something I look forward to doing.