You are Family

Eileen Hopkins (Gramma Jamma)
Grandma’s Point of View

Eleven years ago, when a tiny sweet cherub arrived amidst emergency calls and miles of tubes and alarms making me a grandmother, I was overcome with worry for my daughter and filled with emotion that she was now a Mom.  I hopped on a plane to make sure my own first born was doing OK and walked into a magical kingdom ruled by a brand new princess.  Although I still made all efforts to continue that Mom type care, I was swept away by this new little person with tiny fingers and the special warmth of her little body as she lay in my arms.  The thought then occurred to me – I was a grandmother, a new role to figure out, different from Mom for sure and nothing even remotely resembling baby boomer career woman. 

The word “grandma” didn’t seem to fit me – although I had grey hair since I was in my 30”s – a testimony to being a single mother of four girls, I always said! I had launched into my career late in life and had embraced the world of business and net profits taking on a very different life than my own Mom had pursued.   She had known how to be a Grandma with the ability to quiet a colicky baby with a touch, give out grandma-type hugs against her soft belly and bake cookies and tarts and biscuits without one bead of sweat on her brow.   But me – a cell phone fits more comfortably in my hand than a needle and thread bent on producing one more quilt or flannel night gown like my own mom.  I am a baby boomer.  We had made middle age hip and happening with theatre and jazz and African drumming.  We would do the same with grandparenting – right?

Boomer grandparents face different challenges than their parents and grandparents before them.  My memories of grandparents were summer drives to a little town, going with my grandfather to get water from the town well, using an outhouse with two holes sizes and the dreaded pot under the bed when spending the night.  My very British grandmother always had this cake with thick homemade icing sitting in the sideboard ready for company. 

My Mennonite grandmother (now there’s a combination that spells “stubborn!”) spoke low German to all my cousins but always remembered to smile at me in English.  She made sauerkraut and lots of cookies.  I was always mesmerized by her night time ritual when she would take out the braids that wrapped around her head and brush her long white hair that fell well below her waist.  Images of her hair and the much used spittoon that sat beside my German grandfather are easily conjured up whenever I allow myself to wander down that old, old path.

My children would remember Grandparents from rare visits at Christmas or after a very long, hot drive across all of the prairie provinces in Canada.  I am sad they missed visiting my parents when they were bakers and resided in a world of good smells and home baked treats but they still were able to capitalize on my mom’s top secret biscuits and always available butter tarts.  Hugs were handed around, much teasing ensued and they were squeezed back into the family car for the twelve hour trip home.   Still, I hope they were able to capture that family connection, the unfettered love that grandparents have for grandchildren even when separated by long boring drives.

Now, I am a grandparent and I wonder, what will my children and grandchildren remember about me?  It won`t be fresh baked anything – that is a given!  My hope is they will remember me as the hug provider, the hair tousle-er, the one who can take the time to sew with them or show them how to eat Chinese style.  I want so much to share my life, past and present, in a way that will transcribe into memories and, more importantly, into connectedness and feelings of being loved and accepted.  I believe that that is the one thing that moves unnoticed from one generation to the next – a trailing sense of well being no matter the distance or the era, something that is rooted in knowing you belong because, after all, you are family.

This blog posting is not a form of psychological counselling, advice, therapy, or assessment and should not be used as such by any individual. This blog posting is provided only as an article intended to encourage thought and discourse. For specific psychology related services, please contact an appropriate healthcare provider.