Saturday, July 18, 2015

Just call me grandma

The last of my grandchildren turned three yesterday. The last of them. I have four grandchildren. My children will have no more babies. I remember when my daughter came to tell me that she was pregnant with Sydney, the first. The news frightened me. My daughter and her husband lived on a shoestring. They were young and just starting out. They lived in a low income apartment and now were expecting my first grandchild.

It's amazing the way we change into this new role of grandparent that comes to us not by choosing but by an unexpected announcement. I hadn't really thought to be a grandma. I was having a career and dating. Not my typical vision of a grandma. I wasn't ready for diapers and babysitting. I wasn't ready to be called Grandma.

But we don't get that choice do we? I didn't get a chance to say, "I'm not ready yet." In the matter of moments I aged. I didn't know what to say. My daughter was upset that I wasn't overjoyed. My stomach hurt, and I was truly filled with worry for all of us.

Well, that a little over sixteen years ago. I grew into the role. It happened when I saw Sydney born. As with the Grinch, my heart had grown that day. Then came Gabby. Such a joy and a delight. I was content and thrilled to have so much time with them. James took a long time with career and travel and finding that right woman. Now the twins are three. There will be no more grandchildren. This is the end of the line. Hopefully, it will be a few years until I'm greeted with the next announcement. 

Yesterday we celebrated twins birthdays. They are no longer babies. Independent little spirits, they entertain and continually wrap my heart around their little fingers. I realize that the future will bring many more changes. These children grow so quickly. So quickly that I barely have time to capture it all.

For those of us who are grandparents, we are truly blessed. We have been given a gift beyond anything we could possibly have imagined. The fears we might have felt along the way have taken a backseat to the immense joy we have been given. I have been a daughter, a wife, a mother and a grandma in my lifetime. I have been niece, cousin, granddaughter, sister, aunt and even great aunt. There is none greater or more powerful than Grammy or MeMe. It is during this time that I have learned more about love and understanding. A time when I have learned more about compassion and foregiveness. My grandchildren love me with all my weaknesses and failings. They tell me every day by reaching out to hold my hand or as my teenagers do, they still lay their heads in my lap wanting their grandma to stroke their brows. The little ones grab my hand and take me to their next adventure. They embrace me, not because they have to, but because they love me.

Just call me grandma.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Let the journey begin

One day my boobs are nice and firm then the next, they empty shells. What happened? One day I have a thick head of hair then the next, my hair is thin. One day I have muscles, then the next, oops, their gone. The list goes on and on. It began when I was about sixty-three. I began to notice the subtle changes in my body. A little bit of panic came along with the realization. Who was this woman? Who took the other woman away?

Aging. It is a sneaky devil. It creeps up on you when you least expect it. About eight years ago, I was dating and had a fairly good body. My energy level was good and my memory great. So what happened in those next few years? Why wasn't I warned!!!

My parents aged. I saw the changes and was struck at that point as were my sisters as to 'what to do with them when they can no longer care for themselves'. My granddaughter told me that her mom and step-aunt were talking about who would get what of Grandpa's things when he died. It isn't a rare conversation. All of us have thought about it and talked to our siblings about it. We look to the passing of the older generation and all it encompasses. Then one day we wake up, and we are the older generation.

I have always maintained that we are ageless. The numbers should all be tossed away, and we just interact with all ages. I am thrilled that I have friends of all ages and have since I was a kid. Now I am on the backside of those ages. I have gone from Mom to Grammy/MeMe to Great Aunt Pam. Wow! Did I miss most of my life? My mother said to me in one of our last visit, "Pam, it all went so fast." I am not sure that fast even begins to cover the lightening speed at which we travel through our lives.

Illness, change in way of life, death. they are all things we do not talk about but think about. It is the inevitability that we cannot avoid. We are past the time of our own planning for our futures. Those wonderful days of weddings, babies and future homes. There is a fear I find at this age. A fear of the unknown. My sister and I often talk about this time in our lives. I love that I have her. We should all have someone we can talk to. She is a staple in my life. One I cherish. Our conversations are often about regrets. In our own aging, we have learned things that we did not understand with our aging parents. We have a sorrow from not being better daughters. But then how could we be? We had never experienced this thing of being a senior adult.

I find that doctors treat me differently. That too seemed to happen overnight. My sister says that it happens the moment you go on Medicare. Perhaps she is right. No longer do they seem to care about my concerns. They ask question. I answer. I pay the bill. The warmth and concern I once felt is gone. I am just another old person who can complain all she wants, but she is on the downside. Not a good feeling. I miss being important to that doctor. I hate being talked down to. I may have sagging boobs, white hair and arthritic hands, but I am still an intelligent, exciting woman. Darn it, I have worth.

I think it is time for this old world to buck up and take notice. You who are young get a grip; your day is coming. For those of you in the same boat, we are valid human beings with much worth and beauty. For those in the medical field, we have feelings and have paid our dues. We deserve respect and your admiration. For our government, there are many of us who are in the middle to low income status. Please be aware, and work for us. We have paid your way for many years. Show us the courtesy to represent us and protect us. For our families, I know you are concerned about us and sometimes afraid for us. Perhaps we are a bit of a burden at times. It is not to our liking or our desire. Life has not always been kind or fair to us.

I know I speak for more than just this getting-shorter-by-the-day woman. We all come to this time of surprise and in some ways awe. We have new understanding of life. A new world has opened to us with all of its secrets to be revealed. Life is a mystery but never to much as when you face the reality of your senior age. A wisdom comes that was never expected.

To each of you, we are valid people with much to give. This adventure in aging can be one of distress and difficulty or one of hope and enthusiasm. We are still the keepers of knowledge and history. We are still capable, creative beings. We all have much within us to be explored.

Well, my body might not be its youthful self, but it has served me well. I will be kind to it. My hair might be thinning, but I love my new color. No part of this life journey is without struggle, yet I am more prepared at this age than at any other.

So join me in this new adventure. Enjoy your grandchildren and be their mentors. Embrace your children for one day they will take your place. Change the world by looking at it through loving eyes. Be able to grow and change, and you will never grow old. Let the journey begin.