Grandmotherhood has lived up to all the wonder and hype, much to my surprise. It was not that I did not share the enthusiasm and excitement about our family expanding. I remembered our own feelings of joy before each of you was born. At the same time, the word “grandma” evoked thoughts of blue-tinted gray hair and housedresses. It meant “you are old and everyone knows it.”
Now that I have joined that club, I realize it’s not so bad. When my phone rings because my little man wants to come over for a hug, and then he runs to me at top speed and squeezes the stuffing out of me and says, “Grandma, I am so happy to see you”, I am in love. I teach him songs from my past that I worry may get him beat up on the playground someday. We race around the house playing hide and seek, and I take him outside in the stifling hot Carolina sun to watch a butterfly dart around the palm tree on my front lawn. He stands at the edge of the yard with Dad and loves to watch the golfers on the course.
Then I sit at my computer and drift down memory lane, deciding what story from my childhood I will tell all of you next. I close my eyes and think back to my grandfather, and no matter how hard I try, that’s as far as I can go. Three years old. Flashes of other people and places appear—Grandma’s friend, Mrs. Esthler up the street and her best friend, Aunt Weezie. I recall their homes. I remember that their houses smelled musty, but I just can’t pinpoint my age when I would go with Grandma to visit them. Was I younger than the three-year old me that Papa pushed on the swings? I just don’t know.
After he died, there is a missing year. My fourth year on earth is an empty void. I don’t even recall the transition from only child to big sister when Aunt Arlene came home. If they had taken her back, would my missing year return? I think I loved her, but did I feel that she was an intruder?
Now I am in kindergarten. My teacher, Mrs. Denison, lived up the street. I would sit on the front lawn and wave shyly as she would pass by my house. I remember my cubby where I put the drawings I colored in class and was allowed to bring home to hang on the refrigerator. I loved drawing houses with a ghost in each window.
I remember the other kindergarten teacher, Miss Fox. She played the piano and we’d sing along with her. My first friend, Karen was also in that class. She made those ghostly houses, too, I think. She’s still my friend after all these years, so maybe she’ll help me dig up those dim flashes of thoughts from my past.
Then I think of my little man and realize that the days of chasing butterflies on the front lawn, and the smile on his face when we sing, “You are my sunshine”, or the way he giggles when he finds me hiding in the closet will only be my memories. We will make new memories together—older memories, but these two-year old memories will fade away like the brilliant colors of the morning sunrise streaming in my window each day as they turn from red to pink and then disappear.