Some holidays are difficult. Especially now that my kids are grown and off living their lives. The house is quiet, too quiet, and there doesn’t seem to be any point in cooking a big feast, or even a little one. It’s those times when thoughts of the past seem to hold me in a vacuum. Thoughts of my grandmother’s kitchen remind me of the smells of freshly made tortillas and lentil soup bubbling on the stove. With my eyes closed I can see her wiping her hands on her apron while she makes sure everyone has a full plate. Then I think of people in line to receive food from a food bank, hopeful there will be enough to last a few days. I have a stocked kitchen. I can hear my grandmother saying it’s time to take that turkey breast out and make a meal. Gratitude covers me like an old quilt. As my grandmother would say, “Cuega ahi, mijita.” Hang in there.
My youngest daughter lives in the UK. I live in California. When she shared the news of her pregnancy, I began a series of Letters to My Granddaughter. I felt the urgent need to capture all my emotions and keep a living record of my joy and hope for the future. I wanted my words to wrap her in love, and assure her that I will always be grateful for her life. This tiny girl reminds me of her mama; so sweet. As I held her I thought about how love is limitless. She is in my heart wherever I am.
Here are a few letters I wrote before she was born;
December 31, 2011
Right now you are preparing for your entry into the world. We are all very glad that you got this far and we are anxious to meet you. Your mom and dad smile when they talk about you. I got to see your movements across your mom’s belly via a wonderful invention called Skype. I knew that a baby in utero can hear sounds outside the womb, so every time I talk to your mom, I tell her to say that I love you. Soon I will get to say that myself. Your cradle is amazing, complete with fairy lights all around your room. You are so loved already. There are a billion things I want to show you! I live near the ocean and plan to show you tidepools and teach you what I know about the sea. Summers will be our time.
I love you,
January 2, 2012
It is New Year’s Eve and I don’t like to go out of my house on this day. Some people think that to celebrate you must drink and alter your mind. I think it is not a good idea to begin the new year with anything but a clear head full of hopes for the future. I hope you will have an easy birth. Our celebration will be clear-headed joy and we will be drinking in the moment. We are anxious to dance with you, sing to you, and hold you. Birth is the greatest celebration of all.
I love you,
January 12, 2012
2012 is the year you will be born, so it is already filled with hope. I have so many things I want to accomplish this year. I want to be the best grandma a child could ask for. It will be a year of changes for your parents because they will be on a new journey, one in which there is no guidebook. Being a parent will be their primary job. They are both busy professionals, but you will be their reason for living, and making a living. They don’t know it yet, but every single second they spend with you is worth more than any time doing anything else. It goes by so quickly. My hope for the new year is that I can get to see you as much as possible.
I had the pleasure of having my grandson spend the night at my house for the first time. I think my son sensed that I could benefit from a break in my routine. It’s obvious that time with my grandson always makes me smile, so when he asked if I would care for Maverick overnight I eagerly said yes. I don’t have many toys that would capture the interest of an almost two year old. At least I didn’t think so.
As I started dinner, I made sure he wasn’t out of my sight. I also wanted to keep him occupied. Drawing on my memory from when his daddy was his age, I began pulling unbreakable items from cupboards. To my delight he found the random objects fascinating. He may be a musician someday because he kept banging things and shaking a maraca while humming. My small kitchen was filled with joy! When he said, “Sing grandma,” I couldn’t resist, but after one chorus of my version of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, Maverick said, “Don’t sing, Grandma.” So I will leave the musical talent to my grandson who made me laugh all day. He showed me how great it is to find joy in simple things.
I see your tiny bodies and I am grateful for every breath you take. Each of you are the greatest joy of my life. Holding you in my arms takes me back to when your parent was my baby. I had no experience or guide, but a heart full of love. I learned that you have your own personality, but love will help shape it. I learned that time with you is more important than anything that takes me away from you. I am grateful for your parents who share you with me. My hope is that I have given you good memories that you can recall at times when you think of me.
This world is in need of people of courage. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you feel you can help make a contribution for the good. Guard yourself from harm by remembering good habits of mind, body and spirit. Dance when you heart feels the urge. You will find music and muses that will make you want to dance. Don’t wait to show sincere appreciation. The time to act from your heart will always be now. Steer clear of anything and anyone who makes you feel less than the great, beautiful, treasure that you are. Instead, wish them happiness, but use your compass to regain true north. Each of us has one life on this earth, so make yours the best it can be. Know that you are loved. So loved.
The day I became a grandmother I began evaluating my life, or I should say reevaluating it. I realized that this beautiful child is not mine and I am a part of a much bigger picture, yet only a part. What part do I play? As a retired elementary teacher I know the joy of teaching young children. I have learned things I never knew about when raising my own three. Will I have any credibility when I suggest ideas for my grandchild to learn to read or learn to navigate technology when I left it up to teachers to provide literacy instruction for my own children? Is it my place to offer any suggestions? I know best practices and I have learned to lean on researched methods with proven results, yet this little one is not mine and I have to realize that I am an eager grandmother, one with hopes and dreams, but this child is the child of my child. “Take a deep breath and slow down,” I tell myself, “Enjoy the moment, and let the parents have their shot at raising their own child.” I am going to listen to that not so quiet voice. I will read aloud when I get opportunities and rejoice in my child’s journey with his child. Now if I am asked for advice, well, that’s another story.
My son called to ask if we could celebrate my husband’s birthday by hiking near the coast. He has two small children; a two year old daughter and a 3 1/2 month old son. The hike is 4 miles total, and seemed at first to be a bad idea. We met at our favorite cafe for breakfast and then drove to the headlands to begin our hike. I marveled at how much gear my son had for the children. My daughter-in-law wrapped the 3 month old around her stomach as my son put the largest kid seat I’d ever seen on his back. This contraption even had stirrups and a cup holder. My granddaughter had other ideas. She insisted on walking. Her parents went ahead as my husband, the birthday boy, and I walked with Kaia. She walked along dodging dog poop and refused to hold my hand. Other hikers smiled as they passed my independent granddaughter so determined to make the hike on her own. All I wanted was to hold her hand until I realized that this tiny human is giving us all a glimpse of the future. She will make her own way someday. She walked a mile before getting tired and reluctantly got into her 21st century backpack seat to let her daddy carry her. It was so much more than a beautiful long hike.
The numbers on my bathroom scale made me dizzy. How can it be that I weigh that much? When and where did I lose control of my weight? How can I get back to my old self? How soon?
One of the side effects of the medication I take is weight gain, but geez, this much? Being the clothes horse that I am this is unacceptable.
I decided to enlist the help of a trainer at a local fitness center. My trainer came highly recommended and her smile put me at ease immediately. She asked the standard questions and I shared about my personal illness and my goals to gain strength and lose weight. We went to work setting up a routine. My end of the deal is work out on my own 2-3 days a week and meet with her on Friday afternoons. She showed me how to set up and properly use the machines.
I was self-conscious at first, but kept telling myself that there isn’t a soul in the gym that cares if I am a newbie. They are there for their own health and well being. There were lots of smiles and people around me were more focused on their own goals.
I am either committed or not. My trainer could sense that I have a lazy streak, so she told me to think of it as my job to show up for work. Tomorrow I will travel 4 hours to Stanford Hospital for a medical procedure and allow myself a day or two to rest, then I plan to show up and get to work.
Update1 : The pandemic has put a halt to any gym activity. I purchased an eliptical and some stretch bands. I live at the beach where taking a walk is not a chore. I also bought a membership to Body Groove and dance myself silly in the living room. I am going to stick with my commitment.
Update 2: Down 6 pounds in one week. Woohoo!
Update 3: I joined an online group that gathers on Zoom to discuss healthy lifestyle choices. They are a great group of local women and I am happy to be on the same journey.
Update 4: Down 10 pounds. Woohoo!!
Update 5: I make my own granola and morning muffins– healthy and delicious