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