This has nothing to do with the grandmother I am.
I’ve been a grandmother for more than twenty-one years.
As evident in this photograph of myself with my daughters and my first grandchild, Michael, I was a young grandmother, just as I had been a young mother.
Not only young, but modern in thought and actions.
When preparing for my first daughter’s arrival, I painted her bassinet bright orange. No mind-numbing pastels for my child!
I was the mother who was also bohemian, defender of good causes, feminist, forward-thinker, hippie, raising children like no others…do you see how young I was??
As a grandmother, I was the woods-walker, snake catcher, story-teller, beach-lover, dune-climber who offered all the wonders of Beaver Island to my grandchildren.
When Mikey was a baby, I kept chickens. One glorious morning, with baby on my hip, we found our first two eggs in the chicken house. By the time his mother woke up, Michael and I had composed an entire bluesy song about it! When he and Brandon were youngsters, I’d pack a book, fruit and snacks and a thermos in the morning, and we’d go to the beach. I’d read and drink coffee while they built amazing structures in the sand. Madeline, Tommy and Patrick have had their share, too, of exploring the woods and fields and sand dunes.
For evenings, there were other activities. I hold firm to the idea that children like foods they help to make, so mealtime has always been a joint project. Like my own Grandma Florence, I taught them how to play “King’s in the Corner.” As a nod to my father-in-law, Jack, I taught them how to play poker (complete with his wonderful repartee: “pair of deuces…pair of tens…pair – a – goric”). I kept an art case, for entertainment on rainy days, just as my mother always had.
The “grandmother” I’m referring to is the stereotypical grandmother…you know, the one “I would never become.”
I’m referring to the grandmother who has rows of holy cards (from funerals, no less!) lining a mirror…
who has too many little vignettes featuring photos of children and grandchildren…
little collections of succulents…
and a fat little dog, sleeping wherever she chooses on a loud-patterned piece of furniture (should I say davenport?).
This, alas, is the grandmother I’ve become.