My favorite three words are "I love you."
I can't say it enough. I can't hear it enough.
But something happened last week that's challenging those three words as my favorites, thanks to a 6-year-old adorable little red-headed girl -- my granddaughter, Tilleigh.
It happened last Monday when I was keeping my three grandchildren -- Tilleigh; Evie, 3, and William, 13 months. We were doing what we always do -- playing.
Toys were scattered everywhere throughout the living and dining rooms and it seemed like each of us was going in a different direction at any given time. A fun chaos ruled.
At some point before it was time for me to make the children lunch, I collapsed on the couch, only to find two little girls collapsing with me. William was still playing with a car when he saw the three of us resting on the couch, watching him. For whatever reason, I started talking as though it was William talking.
"What the heck are you guys doing? I'm the baby and I'm starting to get hungry. Get up and fix my lunch," I said, pretending to be William. "Do it now. Hello, I'm the baby. You're taking care of me and I'm hungry. Now. Do it now. Get up, Mom. Get off of her Tilleigh and Evie so she can fix my lunch. What are you looking at? I'm hungry. I need my milk. I need my yogurt. I need my apple. I'm a baby. Get up now."
I kept up the banter for about 15 minutes because I was making the girls laugh. At times they were laughing hysterically. They didn't want me to stop.
Suddenly, Tilleigh looked up at me, tears of laughter streaming down her face, and said, "I am so glad you're my grandmother."
She took away my breath.
Move over "I love you." I now have additional favorite words: "I am so glad you're my grandmother."
Looking straight into my hazel eyes with her hazel eyes, Tilleigh declared her unconditional love for me. At 6 years old, she recognizes my love and devotion to her. She loves being around me because she knows how much I love being around her. Not because of anything material, but because I love her. I make her laugh. I play with her. I give her my time.
Not a day goes by that I don't tell these three little people how much I love them and how lucky I am to have them. I know they feel the same way about me, but to hear a 6-year-old say it from her heart is a gift. It's one I'll always treasure.
Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6396.