Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. The rights to those characters and to the show belong to the creators of the show, to CBS, The Sullivan Company, and to A&E.
Grandmothers & Granddaughters
By, Ashley J.
For a moment, Sully thought Michaela was falling down the stairs when he looked up from helping Katie tie her shoes at the kitchen table. He saw Michaela running down quickly with Katie's bonnet in her hand.
"I found it!" she said proudly. Katie and Sully looked at one another. The five-year-old groaned. She hated bonnets no matter how hard Michaela tried to get her to like them. She didn't like the way it tied around her neck.
"Do I have to wear it, Mama?" Katie asked with a sigh.
"It looks so beautiful on you, sweetheart, and I'd like you to look nice when they get here."
"It's just Colleen and Andrew," Katie replied, rolling her eyes.
"Yes, but they haven't been home since before the baby, and I don't want them to think you've been raised by Wolf." Sully laughed and shook his head. He knew Michaela was just joking, but it seemed to work for Katie who finally let her mother put the bonnet on her.
"I'm an aunt again, right?" Katie asked as Michaela tied the bonnet strings under Katie's chin. Katie sighed heavily. She loved the beautiful dresses that her mother made for her, but she absolutely despised wearing bonnets. They made her feel confined and claustrophobic. But, she was wise for her age and knew that it made her mother happy for her to dress up, especially nicely on special occasions. Even though it was just Colleen and Andrew arriving with baby Madeline, Michaela liked to honor the occasion by dressing up. She had tried and tried with Sully, but he was content enough with wearing what he usually wore. She didn't mind much, however, because he looked handsome in just about anything.
"That's right," Michaela replied with a smile. She sighed heavily. "Which means I'm a grandmother again."
"You're not old enough to be a grandma, Mama," Katie pointed out. Sully grinned, knowing Michaela would appreciate that.
"Oh sweetheart, have I mentioned lately how much I love you?" She hugged her daughter and kissed her cheek several times. Katie giggled, and when Michaela finally let go, she looked to Sully who was standing at the door smiling.
"We ready to go?" Sully asked. "Wagon's hitched already."
"I think everything's finished."
"Remember, she's your daughter. It don't matter if things ain't perfect. She's comin' to see you. Not the house. She don't care if ya wear your nice clothes or not."
"I know," Michaela replied. "It's just that I haven't dressed up much lately, and I'd like to do so now. This is a special occasion. We're meeting our new grandchild, Sully."
"I know that," Sully replied, kissing his wife softly. "Maddie's gonna love you, ya know." Michaela grinned. Everyone had begun calling the baby they'd never even met 'Maddie,' because when Colleen and Andrew wrote about her to her family, they'd explained that they would call her Maddie.
"Well, it seems that I'm going to have quite a bit of competition. I know how much children love you."
"They love you too, Michaela."
"I know. But I can already tell that Maddie is going to have you wrapped around her little finger. That's the way it was with Katie." She pretended to be jealous, but she couldn't be due to her excitement. She couldn't wait to pamper and spoil her new grandbaby, especially because at the end of the day, she'd go back to her parents, and the grandma's job was over. She smiled thinking about what little Madeline was going to look like. She imagined that she'd look a lot like Colleen, and though Michaela had never known what Colleen had looked like as a baby, she could picture her in her mind. Sully leaned in to kiss his wife on the cheek.
"Maddie's gonna be so proud of her grandma," Sully replied quietly. "Not many little girls can say their mother, father and grandmother are all three doctors." Michaela loved it when Sully said the right things. Most of the time he knew just what to say. She appreciated that so much, because there were times when she needed him to say the right things to make her feel better.
"Mama! Poppy, we'll be late!"
"Brian!" Michaela called. Brian rushed down the stairs as he put on his hat.
"Sorry," he said sheepishly. "Slept in."
"Ready to go?" Sully asked with an amused grin on his face.
"Yeah, yeah," Brian replied with a laugh. He'd been so tired, because the night before, he'd taken Sarah Sheehan to a late supper and had spent hours walking and talking with her. Michaela had been worried, but she trusted her youngest son to not do anything he might have regretted later.
"Brian and Sarah, sittin' in a tree," Katie chanted.
"Shut up, Katie," Brian warned.
"Hey," Michaela warned with a stern glance as she placed her hands upon her hips. "I don't want any arguing once Colleen and Andrew get here with the baby. I'm sure they're both tired."
"Were you and Poppy tired after I was born?" Katie wondered. Sully picked her up into his arms.
"You bet, but your ma was a little more tired than me, 'cause she had to do the extra work of stayin' up with ya while you were feedin'."
"I can't wait until I have a baby," Katie said. "I'll name her Annie."
"Like your doll?" Brian asked.
"Yep." Sully and Michaela glanced at one another.
"Sorry Katie, but you're not courtin' 'til you're thirty," Sully replied. Katie's eyes went wide.
"Thirty? That's old! That's like a bazillion years from now, Poppy!" Brian laughed at his little sister's thinking, and Sully put her down.
"C'mon. We best get goin'." Sully, Michaela, Brian, and Katie left the homestead and started toward town.
"Katherine Sully!" Michaela exclaimed, exasperated with her rambunctious five-year-old. "What am I going do with you?" Katie hung her head, and a tear streaked down her cheek. She'd spilled water down the front of her dress. Michaela felt bad now. She hated scolding her children, but she was so anxious for the arrival of Colleen, Andrew and Madeline. Naturally, she was nervous and excited. Poor Katie had only gone to get a drink of water at Grace's, and she was being yelled at. "Oh sweetheart." Michaela knelt down beside her little girl. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you."
"You're not mad, Mama?"
"No," she replied with a smile. "Can you forgive me?" Katie thought for a moment.
"Well, alright." Sully chuckled at witnessing the scene, and he scooped his little girl up into his arms.
"Are ya excited to meet your niece?"
"Yup! I bet she looks just like me!"
"Sorry I'm late," came a voice from behind. Matthew stepped up to his family.
"Matthew!" Michaela exclaimed. "I'm so happy you came!"
"I wouldn't miss meetin' my new niece for anything."
"Hey Matthew. How's Emma?" Brian wondered. Once Gilda St. Claire decided to retire, Emma had come back to Colorado Springs, and now she and Matthew were married and living in Denver so Matthew could better practice law.
"Just fine," Matthew replied. "She's at home with Charlotte, and both of 'em wanted me to say 'hey' for 'em." Charlotte was Matthew and Emma's adopted two-year-old daughter who was, naturally, named after her adoptive paternal grandmother.
"Matthew!" Katie exclaimed, holding her arms out to her oldest brother. "I missed you!"
"Katie! I missed you too!" He took her into his arms and held her up in the air. "You're getting so big. Last time I saw you, I think you were at least a foot shorter."
"Nu-uh," Katie protested.
"Well, you've grown a little though." Katie smiled and hugged Matthew. She missed him so much, but having Brian around was just as fun. For Katie, being the youngest in the family was fun, because she had so many people who loved and doted on her.
The sound of the train whistle was heard, and Katie's eyes went wide.
"They're home!" She wriggled out of Matthew's arms and moved to stand closer. Sully pulled her back.
"No Katie, that's too close." Katie sighed and decided she was content with staying back until Colleen and Andrew arrived.
"You think they've got presents for me?" Katie wondered.
"I don't know, Katie. Money's been tight with the new baby," Sully reminded her.
"Okay. Well, as long as I get to hold the baby . . ." The train came rolling in, and as soon as it stopped, Michaela could see Andrew standing and helping Colleen stand from their seat. The baby was bundled in the quilt her Grandma Mike had made for her. Everyone rushed over to greet the new parents, and Brian picked up Katie so she could get a better look at the baby.
"Ma!" Colleen said with a bright smile that shined past her tired eyes.
"Oh, Colleen!" Michaela whispered, looking down at the face of the angel in her daughter's arms. "Colleen, she's beautiful."
"Thank you," Colleen replied softly. She kissed the top of her baby's head. "You wanna hold her?" Michaela eagerly took her granddaughter into her arms.
"Hello little Madeline," she whispered. "Little Maddie." Colleen and Andrew went about hugging their family, and soon, the townsfolk were all gathering around to catch a glimpse of Madeline Charlotte Michaela Cook. What a name! Soon, the Cook/Cooper/Sully/Quinn clan was heading out for the homestead.
"Look at those bright eyes," Michaela whispered as she rocked her two-month-old granddaughter in her arms. "Look how beautiful you are." She was sitting on the bed in Colleen's old room. Colleen was unpacking a few of her and Andrew's things. They were going to be staying for a few weeks, so they figured they'd better get settled in right away. "Colleen, she's wonderful!"
"I knew she'd love you right away," Colleen said with a smile. The look in her eyes was a little distant."Colleen? Is something the matter?"
"No, I'm fine. I'm just a little tired." Michaela nodded. It was understandable.
"What did your professors say about your break?"
"They told me I could take as much time as I needed, and my homework and papers have all been postponed. Andrew convinced his uncle to persuade them."
"I'm pleased that he did."
"Yeah. Me too."
"You don't sound so happy about it." Colleen swallowed hard and walked over to close the door. Andrew was downstairs with Matthew, Sully, Brian and Katie, and she didn't want them all to hear this conversation with her mother. "Colleen?"
"I am happy, Ma. I'm happy that Maddie is healthy, and I'm happy to be her mother. Andrew is over the moon about it all. He loves Maddie so much, and so do I, but he doesn't realize how difficult it is!"
"Well yes, motherhood isn't easy, Colleen."
"It's not just that. It's the feedings three times a night, it's the lack of sleep, and it's the fact that I can't work on my studies, because she's always cryin'! How am I supposed to become a doctor and keep helpin' folks if I can't sit down for ten minutes to read a medical book?" Michaela thought back to when she actually thought of giving up her medical practice or at least cutting back her hours after Katie was born.
"Colleen, what do you want to do? You have to just stop everything and ask yourself that for a moment. What do you want?" Colleen took a deep breath.
"I want to be a good wife and mother, but I want to be a good doctor as well."
"And you will be," Michaela replied. "You're one of the most determined young women I've ever known. Do you know who you remind me of?"
"Me." Colleen smiled a little.
"Mhm," Michaela hummed with a nod. "Although I wasn't a mother when I was in medical school, I became a mother after I became a doctor. It's not easy, but luckily, I have a husband who is happy to help me when I need the help, and when Katie was little, I had you children to help me out too."
"Andrew wants to help, Ma. I've let him, but he's always being sent to the hospital to perform a surgery with his father or something. Grandma's been helping me out, but I can't expect her to watch Maddie every day once I go back to school."
"Mother wouldn't mind watching her great-granddaughter, Colleen. She loves having you and Andrew so close."
"I know, but I don't want to drop Maddie off with her everyday. Aunt Rebecca has offered to help."
"What about Maureen or Claudette?" Colleen made a face.
"I figured," Michaela replied with a sigh. Neither one of them had ever approved of any of Michaela's decisions, so needless to say, they weren't very supportive of the fact that Elizabeth was helping to care for the daughter of the woman Michaela had adopted.
"Ma, what am I gonna do?" Michaela put Maddie down in Katie's old cradle and moved to hug her daughter.
"You're going to do what you have to do to be what you want to be. You want to be a good mother, wife, and doctor, and you will be. It's going to take some time to adjust to. Believe me, your grandmother doesn't mind watching Maddie. She wrote to me right after the birth and told me how much she adored her great-granddaughter. She loves being around to help. Take the help Rebecca offered as well. At least this way you're leaving her with people you know and trust."
"I guess you're right," Colleen replied with a smile. "I just hate the fact that I know I'm going to have to leave her a lot when I graduate medical school. It was difficult enough while I was pregnant."
"I can't say it's going to get easier, but she's going to be so proud of you one day, Colleen." Colleen looked down at Maddie and smiled, realizing that one day, that little girl would look up to her with so much admiration in her eyes, just like she herself had done with Michaela. When Michaela first came to town, Colleen had been so completely fascinated with her lifestyle, and now she was following in Michaela's footsteps.
"Thanks Ma," Colleen whispered. They hugged one another again, and Maddie began to fuss.
"I'll let you take care of this. I need to borrow Andrew for a little while. Do you mind?"
"I wanted to go over a few cases with him at the clinic."
"Alright. I'll just catch up with Pa, Matthew and Brian."
"Alright," Michaela replied. "We'll be home before dinner. Don't worry about anything. Andrew and I will pick up something at Grace's to bring home."
"Thanks." Michaela left, and Colleen moved over to pick up her little girl. She sat down on the bed and rocked Maddie slowly. "I never thought you were gonna get here while I was pregnant. It seemed like you were gonna be in there forever. Now that you're here, I know you are the luckiest girl in the world to have so many people who love you. I love you, and your papa loves you. Your Grandma Mike and Grandpa Sully are gonna spoil you, I just know it. You won't mind stayin' with Great Grandma Quinn while Mama's at school, will you? Auntie Rebecca loves you just as much, and she'll help to. I wanna give you everything, Maddie. I want you to be a happy little girl, and I don't wanna miss out on anything. But, I know now that bein' a doctor means I'm gonna have to leave when someone needs me. I just want ya to always know that I'll never stop lovin' you."
A moment later, Maddie let out a loud cry, and Colleen wondered if it was time to change her. When she placed the baby upon the bed, she unwrapped her and found that a rash had started to develop on her skin. Colleen gasped and felt that the baby was unusually warm.
"Ma!" she called out. "Andrew!" She hurried to the window and saw that everyone was outside, and Andrew and Michaela were already on their way into town. She took a deep breath. She couldn't let her worry over her baby's condition affect her opinion as a medical student in this instance.
As Maddie continued to cry, Colleen walked over to the freshly filled water pitcher and poured some of the cool liquid into the washbasin. She took it over to the bed and removed Maddie's diaper and the rest of her clothing. She gently ran a sponge over her baby's body. She began to inspect the rash. It didn't take long for her to figure out what her baby's illness was.
"It's just chicken pox, Maddie. Oh, I knew you would get them, but I didn't think it would be so soon." She sighed heavily. "It's going to be alright." She felt herself trembling from the fear that had gripped her when she'd seen that her baby was sick. "You had Mama so worried." She swallowed hard, knowing from medical school that many, many babies even younger than Maddie pulled through just fine with no complications.
It was at that moment that she realized that if it hadn't been for her medical training, she quite possibly may have not known what was wrong. But she hadn't panicked. She used her own judgment from past cases she'd seen and realized what her little girl had.
She was overcome with emotion at that very moment, and after she bundled her little girl back up and put her down in the cradle, she began to weep into her hands. Thank God. Thank God she'd decided to stick to the path of becoming a doctor. She realized then and there that if she'd decided not to become a doctor, and Maddie was, God forbid, seriously sick or injured in the future, there wouldn't be anything she could do. But, thanks to her mother's encouragement and her husband's support, she had her path chosen, and she wouldn't change it for anything.
That night, Michaela carried a sleeping Madeline into the bedroom. Colleen had just fed her and was sleeping next to her husband in the other room. Michaela had decided to steal some time with her little granddaughter. She knew that Maddie was going to be alright, and she had let Colleen know how proud she was of her for taking control of the situation right away. She made sure Colleen knew that she was going to be a great doctor.
Sully sat up in bed when he saw his wife carrying their grand baby.
"How's she doin'?"
"She's just fine," Michaela said with a smile, crawling into bed next to Sully. "She's perfect."
"Who's she remind ya of?" Michaela smiled and brushed a tear out of her eye.
"She looks just like Charlotte." Sully nodded.
"Sure does. Charlotte would be so proud of Colleen."
"She would," Michaela agreed. "I feel guilty in a way. I'm the one who gets to enjoy being a grandmother to her and to little Charlotte."
"She'd would want it that way since she can't be here." Michaela sighed softly and kissed Maddie's forehead. She handed the little one over to her grandfather. "There was a time when I thought I wouldn't have a child of my own," he explained. "Now I've got two granddaughters. I feel old." Michaela giggled a little.
"I don't. I feel like a new chapter of my life has just begun. I know we said we wanted to try for another baby. It hasn't happened yet, but somehow, I feel like that's alright."
"Yes," Michaela admitted. "Sully, we have two beautiful granddaughters. I think it's time for us to settle into the role of being grandparents. We still have so many years left in us, and Katie's still young. If another baby does come along, we'll welcome it with open arms, but I think it'll be alright if it doesn't happen again. How do you feel about that?" Sully cleared his throat and kissed his wife softly.
"I think bein' a grandma suits ya." Michaela smiled brightly. "You're still young and beautiful, Michaela. Not many little girls can say that about their grandmas." They kissed once again, and they spent the next hour holding and talking to their sleeping granddaughter, and when Maddie began to fuss, they carried her down the hall to her parents. Once they were settled down in bed together, listening to the cries of their baby granddaughter, they knew that all was right with the world, and this was the beginning of the rest of their lives.