Monday, September 14, 2015

Must Grandmothers be Gnarly?

Perfect love sometimes does not come
until the first grandchild.
~ Welsh Proverb

Born late in life as I was, my mother being 42 and father 46 at the time, my exposure to grandparents was next to nil. In fact, my mother's father passed away long before my birth, actually dying on the day my parents were married.  Her mother followed him two years later.  My father's father died at a fairly young age, so all all three of these were gone long before my birth. (*)

So it was but one grandmother, my father's mother Annie Clare that was left for me to discover.  Truth be told:  I did not like her.  But that's a story for another day.  Suffice it to say, she probably didn't deserve my critical view given the fact that she died when I was but eight; & that I'd seen her maybe three times that I can even recall.   

Thus I came to my present grandmother status quite blind. Not having role models after which to pattern my particular brand of grandmothering I have, more-or-less, made it up as I go. My husband tells the family that I am the Sugarplum Fairy.  I think that's a compliment.

In assessing my particular grandmotherness, I sometimes come up short of my own expectations (Isn't that always the way of high ideals?).  

I've longed to be THAT Grandma ~ You know her ~ the pioneer-spirited, apron-wearing, afghan-producing, kitchen-wizardry working wonder lady that always has an ear & a flour-dusted hug for you; who is scented with Eau de Maple Syrup, and stands at least one foot taller than everyone else in her grandchild's mind, never mind that she's shrunk from 5'5" to barely 5'2". 

I am not fond of Maple Syrup.

Coming up short in my own mind as I often do, I am left to assess what remains.  Most days it brings me great joy and a sense of pride; days when I relive the epochs of cookie baking, birthday celebrating, treasure hunting (aka shopping), park walking, hide-n-seek playing & Lion King-viewing.  I treasure photos & cherish memories even as I endeavor to take & make new ones.  

Other days I wonder what more I could have done, or could have been than I have or am?  Silly me.

There are nine of them, my grands.   From the oldest at 22 to the youngest at 5, they are a diverse lot.  I could, as any worthy grandmother would, provide a litany of their individual charms, talents & accomplishments.  Each one of them embodies a unique blend of them all.  

Actually, several of them have faced some hard things & made both good and not-so-good choices.  They've crafted their own views & opinions ~ sometimes diametrically opposite my own.  It is then that I realize the true power of the grandparent; power that doesn't include afghans or aprons. It's the stuff of unconditional love and of knees; the stuff of prayerfulness.  

Certainly I could speak truth and love into their young lives, and I sometimes do.  I could warn them of the dangers they're bound to face given their short-sightedness.  I could quote any number of good scriptures that would validate my wisdom.  Or, as I'm often reminded I can be still and know, affirming them as people.  I can free them to make their own way & their own choices, & I can stand closely by to love & nurture them should that way get hard.

"We should all have one person who knows
how to bless us despite the evidence.  
Grandmother was that person to me."
Phyllis Theroux

For me, the hard way lead to The Way, the Truth and the Life.  I would spare no one that journey; that discovery!  God does indeed work all things for good to those of us called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28) While I don't recommend the route I often chose to take, I strongly affirm the destination. It's the place of beauty & safety that I pray each of my beloveds discovers in His time & theirs.  And whenever an opportunity presents itself, I am glad to share how the Lord became & remains my worthy Shepherd, my Lord.

"Only take care, and keep your soul 
diligently, lest you forget the things 
that your eyes have seen, and lest they
depart from your heart all the days of
your life.  Make them known to your 
children and your children's children ..."
Deuteronomy 4:9

No one, certainly not my grandparents, and to some extent not even my parents could prepare me for the steep slopes, crags & crevasses that would be my way at times, be it by choice or by chance.  They couldn't see around the corners or beyond the horizon, nor could they know what God had in store for me. Neither could I.  Perhaps it's why I have often thought Hannah Hurnard wrote "Hinds Feet in High Places" must for me.  

So it is, as I muse upon grandmotherliness in general and my own in particular, I realize there is no perfect model, no tried & true formula, and no guarantees. I've no yarn or thread to tidy, no root cellar to fill, no vapors to overcome.  I've no one to compete with and no Finish Line to cross.  

What I do have is an apron.  Go figure!  But I also have a heart bent in that direction, their direction; one filled with a love much more vast & patient than the one that nurtured their parents.  They will probably not apprehend these things until long after I am gone ~ perhaps not until they are grandparents themselves one day and the "Aha!" lightbulb flashes.  

And you know what's even more important?  Perhaps one day they, in settling into their own grandparentness, will pray as I do now: 

And I pray that you, being rooted and 
established in love, may have power,
together with all the Lord's holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high 
and deep is the love of Christ, and to 
know this love that surpasses knowledge
that you may be filled to the measure of 
all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19


The Sugarplum Fairy

*An interesting fact:  Both of my grandfathers died fairly young from complications related to oral abscesses.   James Elmer Wells, my paternal grandfather was 57; Fred Elisha Grinnell, my maternal grandfather was 62.  


Nancy said...

Your words today have echoed the sentiments of my own heart. We all want to be that perfect Grandma but the most important things we can give to our grandchildren are the words of the Bible and unconditional love and pray that God will draw each of them to His heart.....Beautiful post.....

Sonja Goodson said...

So glad to 'catch up' with you today Kathleen! The heart of grandmas and mimis are all caught up in these words of truth. Once again my sugarplum fairy friend, you have said it for me as well. :)

Saleslady371 said...

This is chock full of wisdom, Kathleen. I always think no one can take my place as mother or grandmother. I may not be excellent at all things, but I love them with the love of Jesus and that connects us like nothing else. This was a very interesting and creative post.

manthano said...

I am not a grandmother, and guess I never will be.
But as a grandfather I sense some of those same
longings. I just wish I could be as interesting to the
grand kids as their electronic games. Maybe I could
pass on more wisdom to them then.

manthano said...

I have not made grandmother yet. Have to be
content with just being a grandfather. But even
we have some of those same longings to impart
wisdom or experience to the grandkids.

If I could be as interesting as their electronic
games - I might make the grade

Thanks for the post.

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

I always love reading yiur posts my friend. I have been such a bad blogger the past few years and needed to catch up desperately!!!

Debbie said...

This was SUCH a good post and soo full of wisdom and truth. Being that kind of a grandma was modeled to me by my mother's mother. I knew deep down in my soul that she loved me no matter what. That unconditional love honestly sometimes is so hard to feel. At least for me. And it has been my goal that everyone of my 12 grandkids would know beyond any shadow of any doubt that their grandma loved Jesus and LOVES them just that way. NOT ever easy. You've picked the perfect verse for this....

Denise said...

such wisdom, bless you

Sharon said...

Your words are inspired beauty. So much wisdom here. I think the hardest thing of all is letting our loved ones be who they are, and to support and love them even when we disagree with them. I have trouble watching the ones I love struggle or hurt. But, I need to trust the Lord's work in their lives, in their journeys. Perhaps the best thing a grandmother can do is model the Lord's love, and to let her grandchildren know that there's always a cheerleader in their corner.


Lisa Shaw said...

Wow...I had to just smile and take it all in. As a Grandma of two girls 8 and 7 I see glimpses of myself in what you shared as a Grandma. I did, however, have an awesome role-model of my grandma and grandpa on my mother's side. I spent more time with them then anyone else. They were the firm foundation in my life--the ones who taught me about the Lord every step of the way. I often say they are the reason I am who I am today.

I didn't take all the lessons at once as I should have. Go figure I just had to find out on my own right? But once I got it straight I was running full speed ahead in the presence and peace of God. Grandpa was and still is my hero. He taught me the genuine love of God as Father and his example as a gentlemen and one who loved his family taught me what to ultimately look for in a man and then in stepped Peter by God's grace! Grandpa went to the Lord in 2007 at age 92. Grandma was and still is the one who kept me grounded in the things of God...the one who taught me to pray and to study the Word.

As a Grandma myself I share all the nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from my grandparents and pray hard for them. I think the only think I do differently is avail myself to listen to their words spoken from their heart and not try to rush in to fix or change everything but rather to affirm them more through giving them more of a voice. My Grandparents weren't from that era. They "knew what was best" and that was that. (Said with a smile on my face) but often times I had so many questions and concerns particularly as a teen and I couldn't talk about it. I want to do better with that with my grand-girls and so I began from the start giving a listening ear.

Wow..I didn't mean to spill it all out here but Kathleen your posts make me think. I love you much and so thankful for the example you are!