“How does it feel to be a great-grandmother?” I have been asked this question numerous times in the past few months, and each time I have have unthinkingly answered “Great! in the same offhanded manner we reply “Fine”, to those who inquire as to our general health. In the latter instance, no one really cares, but recently I have given more thought to the larger question of “how does it REALLY feel to be a great-grandmother.
Great-grandmothers are supposed to be old and bound to their rocking chairs and a certain amount of dignity. I am neither. I don’t think I am inordinately vain, but I do not deny that when I heard of my promotion to this more recent station in life, I hastened to examine my face for any newly acquired wrinkles. To my great relief, there were none which had not been there the day before, and I was still able to climb into my jogging shoes and take off on my daily run. I am active and agile, and have always clocked in a mile or two every day , so clearly being a great-grandmother has nothing to do with old age and infirmity. Our society does seem to stereotype people, and perhaps we react accordingly, adjusting our dress and behavior to match what we think is acceptable.
Are great-grandmothers supposed to be wise, all-knowing, and full of good advice? I am not. I am still learning luckily, and as the years pass, there is so much more to learn. And occasionally I forget what it was I knew so well yesterday. I am also evolving, which to me means living. for to remain the same person year after year with the same values and habits, would be like wearing the same dress one’s whole life.
So, what IS being a great-grandmother and how does it feel? I am in the middle of five generations, and I have known members of all these generations, my grandmother being the earliest in my recollections. I remember how it felt to be a child, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. It felt natural and wonderful. Of all those roles, the characterization of “child” was the only one which occasioned no curiosity. No one really cares how it feels to be a child. Wouldn’t they all be surprised to learn that a child stores all the memories good and bad in their memory bank and learns from those experiences forever. All the other parts we play in our lifetime fall naturally into place and can be just as wonderful.
I look forward not only to holding my great-grandchild, but to running and playing and sharing all the magic in my world. Written in August 1995
This lovely great-granddaughter will celebrate her 16th birthday this summer. She is learning wisdom, and the lessons of today are not always easy. She is tall, beautiful and strong, and a great joy to our family. The world is hers to explore and to claim her place in it. How has it felt to be a great-grandmother? I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. May you always walk in balance dear Dakota.