My daughter turned 19 in March. I called to wish her a happy birthday. “Where did the years go? I feel as though I have just given birth to you!” She retorted, “Mom, you say that every year!” I hung up the phone and made a short trip to the closet in her old bedroom. The ivory sateen dress and matching bonnet my grandmother had sewn for her grand daughter made its annual journey out of its faded keepsake box. It was the first fancy dress she had worn, on a Sunday, when she was one month old. Nineteen years really did zip by.
My 77-year-old mother has been staying with me since February. Every day, I tell myself how lucky I am to be able to share time with her. When I was growing up, my “mum” was our rock, putting her career on hold – without a complaint – to raise her four kids and run a household. Now my mother and I spend days stirring up family recipes, sharing stories of yesteryear and walking the golf cart paths. My mom is the same as she was 50 years ago – always listening and never judging.
Mother claims that her mother was opposite of her in personality. Grandma was stern and stubborn, traits that seemingly made up for her slight height of four eleven. She ruled her roost with tough love. Right after high school, my mom asked permission to visit England, but my grandmother refused with a firm “no.” To this day, my mother feels as though she had missed out on living her young life fully.
Grandmother prepared her daughters for the real world in her own way. The four young women learned to cook, sew and knit to perfection. When my daughter was ten years old, her grandma began teaching her to sew and knit during our visits in the summers. (Passion for such home crafts had somehow skipped a generation as I can barely pass a thread through the eye of a needle.)
In raising my own young adult daughter, I decided to follow some of my mom’s methods, and a few of my grandmother’s. Last semester, when my daughter shared that she would like to study in France for nine weeks, I said, “Sure.” I was anxious, and realized that my grandmother was probably scared, too, to let her child go off into the strange and dangerous world. I’ve learned though to allow love to swell above my fears. I’ve also begun to listen more, rather than problem solve immediately. Heated arguments with my stubborn and sassy Aries teen have now simmered to bearable debates and pleasant discussions. My daughter has been drawing closer to me, and I am forever grateful.
Last month my Aries grandmother would have turned 95. We would have celebrated her birthday with a houseful of children, grand kids and great grands. It was all that my grandmother would have wanted. Plus some homemade vanilla sponge cake. She loved cake. And so do my daughter and I.