My baby has a birthday. I had to do some quick math to discover her age, now. I always say that with five kids their ages are always changing, and one simply cannot expect me to remember all of these ever-changing years.
She is the mother of my two grandsons, and she is very competent at her job. She was singing “It’s my party and I’ll sing what I want to. Sing what I want to. You would sing too, if it happened to you!” Well, one of her friends pointed out that her words were not exactly what Lesley Gore sang in 1965. Her response made my heart sing: “My mother sang it that way, and so that’s what I sing.”
A woman has a surprising amount of influence on her children. And on her grandchildren, it appears. According to Susan Adcox, there are several things a grandmother can do to make a positive impact on them, including my favorite — valuing people above things. Especially when a valuable item is broken, the first message should be “are you okay?”
I remember when I lived with my own grandmother for a year. She explained how the rain makes the air smell different, better. To this day, I think of her when I smell rain coming. She introduced me to swordfish steaks, and to drying cheddar cheese on the counter (although I cannot remember what she was drying it for). She gave my sisters and me big hugs when we arrived, and waved to us as we left until we were completely out of sight. She taught me how to play rummy. She was not perfect, and she wore baggy dresses with aprons and good sensible shoes. Yet in my mind there was no other way for a Grandmother to look and be. She was perfect to me. Understanding how I remember my own grandmother, I can appreciate (and, perhaps, guide) the perceptions my grandsons will have of me.
My plan is to influence them by reading to them; by introducing them to music with recorder and dulcimer; and by giving them their own family history so they know where they came from. I want to teach them to cook what my mother called “soul food,” usually red beans and rice. She explained that her mother made this when there was nothing else available; that it was food “to keep body and soul together.” I think of Momma when I serve this dish. To me it is great food. To her, she ate it because there was nothing else in the house.
I want my grandchildren to remember me every time they listen to classical music, or every time they repeat one of my favorite phrases that I learned from my own mother.
Ready or not, like it or not, I am an influence to my grandchildren. I must choose which direction that influence will take.