“Everyone else has a grandma and a grandpa. You have an Abe and Estelle?” a college roommate remarked when she heard me refer to my grandparents by their first names. I have no idea how it came about, nor had I ever thought about it until Sally mentioned it. It was just another facet of our relationship that made what we had so very special. I was born overseas; my father was in the service. Abe and Estelle crossed the ocean on the Queen Mary to meet their first grandchild, writing home to their friends, “We can report that Debby has long black hair, weighed 6 pound 3 ounces and is vigorously interested in the new world about her. Debby’s arrival was duly noted at Friday evening services conductd by Rabbi (Captain) Schriner…and attended by her father and paternal grandparents.” Thus was born a relationship where distance had no sway.
We spent time in Florida together, walking on the beach, playing in the lollygoggles (Abe’s mysterious name for the waves), collecting seashells and going out to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Times were different then and it was a short flight. Putting me on a plane to see them, even when I was as young as four, was just part of what we did. We were a little family of three, complete and stable in a way that meant more and more to me as the years passed and my homelife disintegrated.
Of all the questions asked and answered, it never occurred to me to ask Estelle what it meant to her to become a grandmother. What were her thoughts the first time she held me? What were her dreams for me? Most of all I wish she could see me now. Her granddaughter has become a grandmother! I long to talk as equals in this role we now share and kvell together over her two great-great granddaughters. I like to think that Abe and Estelle are still here, watching over me as I have become a grandmother. For my part, it remains and will forever be a relationhip where distance has no sway.