When I became a grandmother, I longed to share the experience with my own grandmother. Did she remember holding me for the first time? What were her thoughts in that moment? Her hopes? What did she imagine us doing together one day? She embodied utter love. She, and my grandfather, were my haven. My grandmother kept her nails perfectly manicured despite the fact that she did all her own housekeeping, proudly and energetically. (Her two fave colors were Revlon’s Love That Red and Cherries in the Snow.)
I don’t remember her reading to me or singing me nursery rhymes. Instead, mornings always started with the Jumble, torn from the newspaper and left beside my breakfast plate for me to solve. She would have already solved it on a scratch pad. Her blintzes were legendary, as were her eclairs, egg custard, sponge and pound cakes. I don’t rembember her getting down on the floor to play with me but we played hands and hands of gin rummy. She fed me body and soul. She crooned Frank Sinatra songs to me. Billie Holiday’s I’ll Be Seeing You was a favorite. I have a beautiful memory of her and my grandfather dancing to it late in their lives.
It’s taken me time to grow into my own version of who I am as a grandmother. Olivia and I, and now Leah, are playmates. We dance to rock music. We play rounds and rounds of Mancala and Guess Who? When there are rain puddles we splash in them. (Oivia once called the reflections “rain shadows.”) During the nearly three years they lived in Michigan, I read hundreds of books to Olivia, teaching her zillions of words in English and dozens in Hebrew. Now we text our Wordle answers back and forth. Leah doesn’t lean toward books. Instead we invent improv pantomines, dress up her Barbies and play grocery store alternating the roles of shopper, cashier and bagger. Where Olivia and I meld over mind challenges, Leah and I wander the world of imagination.
Each of us finds our way on the path called grandmothering. I am so grateful to be a pilgrim on this journey and hope that from some corner of heaven my own grandmother is gazing down with delight.