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Out of the blue, my youngest grandchild, 6-year-old Kate, said, “Grandma, it is OK to have wrinkles,” as she gently smoothed her hand over my arms and looked into my face. She snuggled closely and went on to say, “they will just let people know you are getting old and people will be very nice to you.”
After getting over the shock, I thought to myself, maybe she is right. I don’t mind having someone hold the door for me or treat me with respect. Sometimes the truth hurts, but grandchildren tend to keep me young at heart.
I had a great mother; she brought me up with good values and the essentials of life. However, there were a few things Mom just refused to talk about. One of them, of course, was the birds and the bees, but it didn’t take me long to figure out about my fine-feathered friends and the stings of life. But one specific thing she wouldn’t talk about was grandchildren. I distinctly recall her telling me, “I’ll just let you find out for yourself.”
Recently at the dinner table my 8-year-old granddaughter blurted out to my son and his wife, “Did you ever make out?” My son passed the buck to his wife, who said: Why do you ask? “Oh, I don’t know, just wondered,” she replied, and then proceeded to ramble on about something else. Enough of the facts of life for one day. What would my mother say?
While baby sitting for Cal, Ruthie and Kate this summer, I was picking beans in their garden, just a stone’s throw from the house. One of the kids came running out of the house with the phone and said, “Someone wants to talk with you.” The caller said, “I am wondering why the children are alone in the house.” I explained what I was doing, dropped the basket of beans and scurried back into the house, never taking my eyes off the three of them. At this stage of my life, I did not want Child Protective Services on my case; after all I had raised six children to adulthood.
I recently visited Josh, Jordan and Jared, who live in Idaho. How they had changed in the three years since I had last seen them!
I also have two who just graduated from high school. I beamed with pride as Allison and Nathan received their diplomas, thinking of my own graduation day at Arcade Central. After the ceremony, Nate hugged his sister Emily, who was born with Down syndrome, proud to show her off to his friends. What a fine group of graduates going out into the world, I thought to myself.
Amanda and Angela are juniors in high school, still deciding their lot in life, and Monica is a junior at Daemen College. What’s there not to like about grandchildren?
Emily’s features are a visible sign to people; she receives the kindness so warranted to her. Will my age spots entice people to look at me differently? Will I give joy to others as she has? It is hard to see things as they are; we often oversee the imperfections in ourselves and how others perceive us.
After having 12 grandchildren, I seem to understand why Mom wanted me to find out for myself. They bring me enjoyment but also teach me a lot about life. Kate seems to resemble me and told me, “Grandma, you are just an older version of me.” I wonder what life will be like when she reaches my stage of life. Sometimes, as in a good book, older editions are better; I can only hope it is for her generation. I for one have a lot of faith that the young people going forth will make this a better world.