When my own daughter was not yet five, my friend Nancy told me not to worry. "If anything ever happened to you," she said, "I will make sure that if Jess wants acting lessons in New York City, I will find a way for her to follow that or any other dream."
Jess grew up and Nancy died and I am still and always wanting to be sure dreams can be followed. Jess is not an actress and she does not live in New York City: she is a talented wonderful woman and daughter and Mother.
I have this hope that her children--my grandchildren--will grow up and remember especially that I believed in them, supported them, loved them in every possible way. In many ways I view myself as a teacher when they are with me: they try new foods because they like the idea of a "no thank you" bite. They sing and dance because we turn up the music, clap our hands, raise our voices, and tap our feet. They rhyme words and I remind them they are poets. Six year old Ryan knows that The Little Prince lives alone on his own planet the size of a house, with only a special rose to care for. And four year old Drew, shown here at his pre-school graduation today (Mr. Ham) puts out the plates and silverware and cleans the dinner table with great pride.
I attended Drew's graduation on one crutch. Yesterday I learned I will need a no fooling-around total knee replacement, and soon. (July 9th). JB had a knee replacement a few years ago and I remember how extensive and painful it was for her, for many weeks. I remember thinking if I ever had to go through something like that, I wasn't sure I would have the determination and courage she did to get to the other side.
I had to tell Jess last night that I will not be physically able to help her with the new baby. That I will not be able to take Ryan for a week in August in Cape Cod, him and me. I held back tears knowing I cannot be there for my daughter because I will have my own surgery and issues to attend to. I don't just view being her Mother as a responsibility: it is a privilege to support her and her family. I don't know if she really knows how much and how hard I try to provide that support, but that's okay. I love her unconditionally and that's what counts.
I'm not a grandmother whose whole life is her grandkids. Not even. I live two hours away and I admit to exhaustion when JB and I have the kids for the weekend.
But I care and I try. And boy oh boy are they fun.