Having had no expectation of ever being a grandmother – my other two children had made different choices – when my youngest daughter had her first child I was thrust into learning about the meaning of ‘Grandma.’ With her enthusiastic assent I began finding ways of seeing Baby Tait every two, at most three months. Whether they came to me or I traveled there, each visit revealed new information and insights on his character and personality. Without that frequency it would have been easy to lose our comfortable relationship.
Now Tait has two sisters, Tessa and Tori, within a very busy household and I look forward to being with them whenever I can. Sometimes it has been to give Grandma-care when there are just too many priorities in their parent’s lives, other times the family comes here, or we vacation together.
Each visit has been precious time spent as I learn more about the developing personalities and interests of each of the children. We have fun together in new-to-them ways, like the ritual I showed them of hosting a tea party with real china and fabric tablecloth, puzzles and games they teach me, time spent in pool and ocean water learning of its powers and delights. I have enjoyed seeing them as they participate in sports and club activities. More recently they have been educating me on the merits and ways of using my iPad.
Whenever I consider how fortunate I am to be able to come to know these children at all, I am reminded that my own grandmothers had no similar grandparent relationship available to their children. Both sets of my grandparents had a tremendous influence on me and taught me a great deal. My paternal grandparents emigrated from Norway as a young couple and their three children had no connection with the ‘old country’ where they had come from. My maternal grandmother came from Belgium as a child, with a similar result.
I find myself agonizing about how sad it is that both of my parents and their siblings did not have benefit of shared experiences with any grandparents. The loneliness those mothers felt in their new country without the familiarity and support of family members must have been dreadful. I salute them for all they endured, and although they have passed on, I thank them again for their gifts to me.