The grandma in their hearts

My grandparents and me - 1968

(Front to back) Me, Dad, Great grandmother Mimi, Grandmother Ruby - 1968

I don’t remember the point in my life when I had to be carried because I could not walk. I don’t remember the time in my life when others knew nothing of what I said because I could not talk.  I do remember the time in my life when I was treasured, loved, and thought of before all else, that was the times I spent with my grandmother.

She was understandably upset when my mother got pregnant with me, out of wedlock in 1966, but she got over it – and I became her favorite thing in the world. She kept me every chance she got – going so far as to pay my parents to go out so she could. She was generous, kind, and intelligent; and she taught me a lot about life. I miss her a lot, and I wish she was here now to see her beautiful great grandchildren, and great great grandson.

When I think about my life with two sets of living grandparents, I realize just how lucky I was. When I was growing up, not only did I have my grand parents on both sides, but I had great-grandparents as well. My great grandmother Mimi was 90 when my father died, she was 107 when she finally passed. Grandma and Grandpa Decker were well into their 90’s when they passed away, my oldest child was 2.

I say all this because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is to be a grandmother. Not just any grandma, no – that’s not me… Just like I’m not any mom I refuse to be just any grandma. I want to pass on to my grandchildren a legacy of love, joy, and happiness. I want my grandchildren to remember me, and remind their grandchildren of the things we did together when they were young.

I want to be able to have sleepovers, cookouts, and vacations with the grandkids… I want to hold them, hug them, and have them fall asleep in my arms.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend some time with a baby… alone. While her mother was being treated for a bee sting, I was in charge of my purse, the baby, and her diaper bag, as well as her mom’s cell phone. I felt so special with that little girl in my arms, all the compliments and smiles she got, because she is one happy little girl. Everyone asked if she was my granddaughter, and I smiled and said “Well, on loan, yes”. I’m practicing!

BUT ya’ll… I have to tell you – this crap is hard. I had forgotten what it was like to wrestle a 20lb child from a car seat. I had forgotten how heavy 20lbs is when you hold it for more than 5 minutes – and how much heavier it seems when that 20lbs wiggles and squirms. I had forgotten how difficult it was to handle the baby, the bag, and a purse (which included a HUGE book that I’m reading). I had forgotten, thankfully, how difficult it could be to handle a tired and fussy baby who’s just learned to walk – without a temper tantrum or them getting hurt.

All in all – I remembered a lot of things yesterday… but all of them made me think of how hard it’s going to be to be the kind of grandmother my grandma was… involved. I don’t want this disorder to prevent me from holding my grandchildren. I don’t want to be the “frail grandma” who can’t go out and run, swim, or play. I don’t want to be the one that can’t take them to the zoo because even though we planned the trip – I can’t plan when I am going to have to crawl to the bathroom. And with my grandson so far away and only getting to see him on occasion – I don’t want his only memories of me to be sitting in a chair watching him because I can’t hold him.

I remember my grandmother’s participation in my childhood, and I have promised myself to give my grandkids at least as much as she gave me. I think I can come up with creative ways to be as important to my grandchildren and my grandparents were for me.

I may not be the grandma on the ball field, I may not be the grandma hiking trails, I may not even be the grandma in the pool, but I will strive to be the grandma in their hearts.

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