Not necessarily struggling with the idea of being a grandmother, but thinking a lot about that lately. I find myself visualizing my grandparents quite a lot and I’m not sure what that’s about, but I’m willing to consider that it is connected with my own grandparentness or grandparent persona.
I want to be all things grandmother — hip cool grandmother and cookie-baking grandma; let’s-zip-off-to-Paris grandmama and let’s-read-a-book-on-the-porch gramma. I want to hold hands, jump in the ocean, fish for trout, create art projects, sew fab dresses, and sing show tunes in the car. [that whole “sing show tunes in the car” thing is so hard these days cuz the kid has to ride in the back seat]
My grandmothers, who were around well into my adulthood when I turned them into great-grandmothers, were two very different women.
Grandma Mary lived out in San Fernando Valley when it was still rural and they had a LOT of land and trees — huge eucalyptus and several fruit trees like apricot, plum, peach, lemon and lime. She grew fragrant sweet peas. She raised chickens, canned fruit and veggies, sewed matching dresses for us (4 girls!), and cooked amazing dinners (remember REAL fried chicken — the kind crispy from Crisco?). She never drove a car so we would take the bus and thought that was fabulous. She let us watch t.v. in bed every evening and collect eggs every morning. She kept a trunk full of dress up clothes (my mom’s dresses from the 40’s) and we played for hours. When we stayed at her house we were allowed to drink soda pop and chew bubble gum. We walked to the local “plunge” and joined other kids in games at the rec center. I would sit on the porch and read books, play in the sprinklers, and fill mason jars with rose petals (hey! to make my own perfume). Her skin was soft and she smelled sweet. I miss her very much.
Grandma Jennie lived in a beautiful two story house (with basement and attic too) that my grandfather built (with a woman architect) in older, swank uptown Los Angeles. She and my grandfather (who not only put all the plumbing in all the schools and many offices in LA but was also an inventor) drove matching Oldsmobiles. She grew an organic garden and took a pitchfork to her compost pit. She also had a hothouse (it’s still there - I googled) and raised orchids — the large kind for corsages. One of her friends up the street had an olympic-sized swimming pool and she traded orchids for us to swim. But she also took us all to the beach — five kids! She was a “health food nut” before that was popular, feeding us brewer’s yeast and making carrot juice in this huge juicer. She made her own yogurt (it was the 50’s and Dannon wasn’t even a twinkle). She played golf, bowled, hosted card parties for the ladies (bridge? for sure canasta). She was pretty much no-nonsense, but had a verve and love of life that filled a room. In 1939, she drove across country from Los Angeles to Connecticut and back with my dad (13), his sister (15) and her sister-in-law. She took my sister and I shopping for our birthday in downtown LA — Wilshire and La Brea. Our family always went to her house for Christmas Eve and she made ice cream parfaits in the most beautiful soft pink glasses with gold trim (which I now own). She flashed the most amazing smile and exuded an amazing enthusiasm for life. I miss her very much.
What kind of grandmother do I want to be? I am thinking about that a lot these days.