Published in the Tacoma News Tribune
June 4, 2012

GRANDMOTHERS

I reconnected with an old friend last week. We were sitting at Starbucks having coffee, catching up on the last 15 years of our lives, when it happened – out came the pictures of her grandchildren.

When did my friends go from margarita-drinking, guy-chasing, frenzied party girls to baby picture-toting grandmothers? This particular friend was barely an adult herself the last time I saw her.

I’m inclined to think that grandmothers must be special people. I have no frame of reference for that though, as I was not blessed with any grandmothers.

When I was about 4 years old, I asked my mom why I didn’t have a gramma. Her response was, “Sorry, honey, all your grammas died.”

For a short time, we lived next door to a lady I called “Gramma Laury.” My mom met her when she dragged me there to apologize for picking all the tops off Mrs. Laury’s prize tulips.

I ran away to Gramma Laury’s house several times. She had a plastic necklace that I played with while drinking milk out of a small red glass. It’s funny what children remember. My mom always knew where to find me and became an expert at apologizing on my behalf.

We moved away a year later, and I never saw Gramma Laury again. Interestingly enough, through my marriage, I now find myself in the position of being a grandparent – and not a very good one at that.

I not only didn’t get the grandparent gene, I never got the mother gene. You see, when I married my husband, he already had five sons with ages spreading from 2 to 16. Let’s just say that his oldest son was way too young to date but too old to claim as my own.

I never felt that “ticking clock” or that need to nurture an offspring. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t experience all the rest of the motherhood pains. I was blessed with boys in and out of my house at various ages.

I got my fill of Legos, die-cast models, football cleats and combat boots. I’ve experienced the highs of the first car and lows of the first traffic ticket. I just never felt inclined to add to that arsenal of testosterone, and I never missed not having a child of my own creating.

Now the boys are all grown. Through osmosis, I’ve been through graduations, weddings, births and divorces. Children seem to be a filmstrip of highs and lows, while grandchildren remain a mystery.

I got through the first two granddaughters without being called “Gramma.” They had other Grammas in their lives that spoiled them appropriately, so they weren’t lacking for attention.

The second round of grandchildren figured out that I didn’t squirm too much if they accidentally called me Gramma Glenda. OK, I’ll give ’em that, but I’m not going to carry pictures around with me. It’s pure coincidence that the only picture I have in my wallet of grandkids just happens to be right next to my driver’s license. OK, so anyone checking my ID might accidentally see it, and yes, they are kind of cute for little people.

In spite of the fact I never had a real grandmother, I do remember Gramma Laury to this day. Twelve years after we moved away, I telephoned her, on the verge of my high school graduation. I wanted the connection to still be there, and wanted her to be proud of me.

She told me all about her real granddaughters and how much she loved them, and how full they made her life. But, she added, it was really nice to hear from me. When she hung up, I cried.

I’m still not going to carry a wallet full of pictures to show off at the drop of an espresso bean. However, I am looking forward to a granddaughter’s recital next week. I wonder what she might remember about me when she is grown. I believe children remember more than you might think.

Glenda Cooper has recently published her
first novel, The Road to Lost and Found.
She lives in Tacoma  with her  husband Jim
and their Old English sheepdog Reilly.

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