Posted by: perchancetodream | March 26, 2008

All The Things You Are

Calliope at CreatingMotherhood posted a wonderful tribute to her grandmother who is struggling with alzheimers and who Calliope cares for. In turn, she’s asked other bloggers to do the same. And I, for one, am very happy to respond.

I have one living grandparent: my paternal grandmother who is 94. In many ways she’s the grandparent I’ve always been closest to. As a child I remember thinking that she was the most glamorous person I’d ever met. My grandparents were in the clothing business and even though they sold men’s clothes, I think it gave my grandmother an excuse to be the best dressed woman on the block. Her purse and shoes always matched her outfit and she always had beautiful but understated jewelry. To this day, she gets compliments on her clothing from the other women in the assisted living apartment she’s in. The other older women can’t see the small stains that now dot her clothes or the fact that she’s already given her good jewelry to various family members and now loves the elastic rhinestone bracelets in all colors, most of all.

My grandparents had one of the most romantic stories I’ve ever heard. As a teenager in NYC, my grandmother first heard about my grandfather from her stepfather. It was years, I think before she noticed that a photo of herself was missing and found out that my grandfather had taken it from her stepbrother and was showing it off to people saying that it was a photo of the girl he was going to marry. They hadn’t even met yet.

Grandma’s stepfather moved the family to Michigan. My grandfather met them at the train station. The rest, as they say is history. They had 2 children. They ran a business. They were one of the most gently affectionate couples I’ve ever known. I don’t remember my grandfather ever really saying ‘no’ to my grandmother. He gave her money and she bought her own gifts for holidays – not something I’d appreciate but it worked for them. He didn’t dance, which she is still sad about because she loved being the center of attention. He loved the country and she didn’t see any point in driving out into nature. She was a city girl through and through and even today she’d much rather be out amongst people than out in a pretty setting.

I am her only grandchild. And after my own mother died, our bond became closer. She frustrated my mother but my mom was the daughter she never had and there was a deep mutual love there. She doted on me as a child and still brags about me. She loves me more unconditionally than anyone I’ve ever known. And I already fear for how the loss of that love will affect me.

Her friends and contemporaries have mostly passed away by now and when my grandfather died at 67, a large part of her died with him. She often talks as though she’s just waiting to die. She is lonely. My father has a very full life and although he is there for her in every way he can be, she is lacking for the bond she had with her closest girlfriends who were sisters to her until they passed away. I’m half-way across the country and she can’t hear very well so our calls are few.

One of the largest frustrations of this journey through infertility and one of the things I had to fight to accept is that it meant that it would be harder for me to see her. I haven’t been home since last summer and now, when I return during my next two week wait, I don’t know what I’ll find.

I hope that she’ll understand what I’m going through. I know that she’ll think that at 42, I’m too old to be pursuing parenthood. In her day, women didn’t have children when they were this old. But I hope that we can still sit up late into the night, pouring over old photos and telling stories. And I hope that by the end of my visit she supports my choice to pursue this even though it means that I see her less.

4generations.jpg

Me and my dad flanked by my great-grandmother on the left and my grandmother on the right. Circa 1970ish….

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