September 11th is National Grandparents Day and, for crying out loud, I am yet to be a grandmother. My sons are apparently not in any hurry to bestow on me the title of “Grandma.”
I plan to be an awesome Grandma, a nice blend of all the good qualities of my own grandparents. My Irish grandmother was a chef who specialized in desserts. I adored her scrumptious coconut crème pie and her four-layer German chocolate cake, a slice of which was bigger than my head. But she also nagged me about my slouching, suggesting that at the age of 10 I should consider wearing a whalebone corset to correct that lousy posture.
So when I am a grandma, I will keep her great dessert-making heritage and skip the archaic torture devices. My other grandmother was addicted to playing Yahtzee, so she taught me how to play like a pro. She also had a dry sense of humor and a statue on her mantle that said, “You think you have problems—my living bra just died.” So I plan to be a wisecracking, Yahtzee-playing, dessert-making grandmother.
Since most of the seniors here at Live Oak Adult Day Services are grandparents many times over, I knew they would have some great advice for me to keep in mind when the big day finally arrives. Molly says some women dread being called “Grandma,” because it makes them feel old, but she always wears the title with pride. “I have 73 grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” she crows, “and I welcomed each one with love. Just love them and they will thrive.”
Patrick reminisces about his Texan grandfather, who taught him all about ranching. “He had a long beard and a bullwhip. I’ll never forget him.” That actually sounded a bit intimidating for a child to experience, but Patrick says there was a lot of love and respect. With his own grandchildren he emphasizes having fun. “I go to their Little League games, take them camping, and we laugh a lot. I am never strict with them.”
Lynn recalls her grandmother always sticking up for her when she got into trouble. “She always saw the best in me and, now that I think about it, I guess I am like that with my own granddaughter.”
Just about everyone here had wonderful memories of grandparents who read to them, comforted them, taught them to play the piano or catch a baseball, cut them some slack when they misbehaved and, in a few cases, actually raised them in the absence of parents.
Thinking back on these warm memories brought such a smile to each of our seniors. Alex Haley once wrote, “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”
It is a lovely sentiment, and one that I will keep in mind as I dispense big hugs along with gigantic slices of pie and cake, play board games for hours, and make my grandkids roll their eyes at my corny wisecracks. I can’t wait.