Sunday is National Grandparents Day. There's some fascinating info in this link, a Presidential Proclamation, and ideas on ways to remember and honor our grandparents.
I had a lot of time to think while cleaning family headstones in the last few weeks. I have my grandmother's first name, Martha. My grandfather's middle name, Lee. Evidently I looked like Gram when I was born, hence the name. However, I could never figure out how a baby could look like a wrinkled old woman, so when my brother dubbed me Marcy, it stuck.
Grampa died before I was born, but Gram lived as a widow for over 50 years. She was a force of nature and lived to 101. She was our public school district's business manager while I was growing up in CT, and hence I couldn't get away with anything. Her ears were everywhere. But if she felt I was right about something she backed me 1000%. So I guess she struck the right balance.
While I was scrubbing their headstone, these were what I remembered...
Born in February 1906 of German ancestry, her father had to agree to shelter the doctor's horse or he would not attend the birth.
She managed her father's business books by age 10.
She chose marriage over teaching---when one couldn't do both but she hated having to choose.
A lifelong Republican, I doubt she voted for FDR, but she helped launch Social Security in our home town in 1935. She was 29.
Along with my grandfather, a WWI veteran and American Legion veteran, she entertained fellow Legion member Prescott Bush in their home. Son George H.W. washed the dishes.
She moved from one end of our town to another so that her children could attend a better school. Then lay across her bed, cried for her old house, but knew she'd made the right choice.
The inscription on my high school graduation card reads: "You have what it takes to make your family proud." That expectation was never far from our minds while growing up. Do NOT do anything to dishonor your family. That we would get an education was so much a given baseline life choice it was hardly even spoken of.
She slept in my empty apartment with me after I graduated college--but she would not have missed that day.
She taught herself to drive in the 1920's and her driving never improved. But her bottomless self confidence kept her driving until age 96 when her eyesight gave out. In fact, she rented a car in Ireland in the 1970's and drove straight through the Troubles in Belfast.
She was a veteran auction goer, making us all cringe with her famous dollar boxes---until one was later found to contain a spectacular diamond ring. She shut her detractors down cold.
She did the NY Times crossword puzzle in ink, and beat me at Scrabble every time.
She broke her leg in Shanghai on a round the world trip at age ~76 but claimed it was a great trip--even when the State Dept had to help figure out how to get her home in a full leg plaster cast.
Her life came full circle in her last months. We all helped care for her and we had to ultimately give her the okay to let go. She choked up and said she just didn't want to disappoint her family.
Putting my daughter, and then my granddaughter in her arms will always be among my greatest achievements. Five living generations. She, and they, are dearer than my next breath. After my last has been taken, I will sleep again next to her.
Our days hurtle by, don't they? Taking time to write, visit, call takes....time. These are what I hold as I pay it forward.