Years back, I watched you step so perfectly into the role of Grandma as my sister had her two wonderful children, now 18 and 21. Who knew that two decades later, both my brother and I would become later-life parents, adopting three amazing babies between the two families. Suddenly, we were the ones racing to the "red-alert" Grandma phone to cry: "help!"
The calls for your wisdom, support, and love started all over again, didn't they?
For me, there is beauty in watching you embrace all five of your grandchildren -- now ages 9 months to 21 years -- with the same pride and love. Yet recently, you shared with me your sadness and frustration that, at age 79, it is harder for you to offer a grandma's help.
You were an invaluable family support to my sister decades ago, but also to me and my brother in more recent years, offering sage advice and critically needed part-time caregiving to our daughters as babies. Now the girls are wildly energetic 5 and 6 year olds -- "whirling dervishes" as you like to say -- and you admit you can't keep up with them anymore.
Your hearing is challenged now, too. I see you strain to catch what they are saying in their fast, high-pitched chatter, asking us to translate.
And now with the newest grandson, you concede that babysitting stints have to be shorter than in the past. These days, babies are harder to hold for long periods, and you tire more easily.
And yet, I watch you hold your 9-month old grandson, cooing and doing the "grandma sway." I listen to you sing the same comforting songs in his ear as you did with the older grandchildren. I still see it all flow through you, like a natural grandmother's life force.
Last month as my daughter dreamed aloud about her 5th birthday, you heard her wax rhapsodic about the cartoon heroine she hoped to be for her party. When the expense made it dicey for us to pull off, you made it happen.
I look at this picture of the two of you at her party and smile. It isn't just seeing the generous gift, or chuckling again at the crazy wig she wore so proudly. It is seeing an image of my beloved Mom making my beloved daughter beam. It is seeing the unconditional love between the two of you. This is your grandmother's gift to me.
I know you're tired, Mom. (As a 53 year old with a 5-year old, trust me, I get tired!) But it just makes me all the more grateful to you. So thanks for decades of ongoing grandma excellence, and please know this: you've still got "it."