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TALKING TO MYSELF: 20 Nov 2012 Fourteen years ago today, I became a grandmother. I didn’t have much training for the job. I never knew my maternal grandmother. She died the year before I was born, and since I was her first and only grandchild, the language of my heart does not even have a name for her. She is not Grandma or Nana, only the abstract “my grandmother” or “Mother’s mother” I’ve glimpsed in a few faded snapshots. On Daddy’s side, Mawmaw Green, mother of eight and grandmother to eleven, was ill and exhausted by the time I can remember her and almost blind. She was a benevolent presence in my childhood, but not an active one.
At first, I assumed that the job would not be too different than mothering. I’d managed to keep three daughters alive and out of serious trouble after all. But being a grandmother is a little like seeing the movie version of a book you’ve read. The story is vaguely the same, but not really. I’d also reared daughters, not sons, and I have no brothers. The guy thing was different for me right from the get-go. And so, I’ve bumbled along, sometimes being too mother-like, correcting and chiding him and instructing (who knew boys were so active and rough?) At other times, I’ve been the indulgent spoiler. (Yes, I tell his mother, I know 10 pieces of cinnamon toast is too much but he wanted them.)
It’s hard now, though, to remember our family, our lives, before Jared. Funny, affectionate and charming, he simply is and always was. So many memories crowd into my mind this morning. I see him sitting at my kitchen bar on countless visits, having an early breakfast with me alone and talking my ear off. I recall his sobbing, heartbroken, at my mother’s funeral, GG Mom he called her. He was eight when she died, and I’m glad they got to know each other. Their admiration for each other was mutual.
His birthday always falls close to Thanksgiving which seems appropriate to me for a first-born grandchild. However, that first year, we could only muster carry-in from the supermarket deli in his parents’ small kitchen. When he was about three or four, he surprised us during our family ritual by chiming in with his thankfulness for “the letters of the alphabet.” Along the way, I think he’s started to think that Thanksgiving dinner is his personal birthday feast.
Over the years, Ernie and I have sneaked in “educational” activities and trips with Jared whenever we could. He got wise to us early on, but stepped up and pretended to enjoy them. Mostly, though, he and I have watched hundreds of movies together, and I swear, he is going to be the Roger Ebert of his generation. His instincts and comments about movies are almost always dead on.
I’m not sure when he began singing. I think it was sometime around second grade. Since I sing like my mother, who was once asked not to sing hymns in church because she was getting the people around her off-key, I am impressed with this boy’s talent. If you have a minute to stop and listen, I think his voice will make you feel happier today. Here he is singing The Star Spangled Banner at the Middle School Championship Football playoffs last week:
At fourteen, Jared is not a finished product. Some days, he is a little more typical teen than his family can appreciate. But he is a fine, fine beginning for the next generation of our family. Happy Birthday, Jared. We love you. It will take another half century for you to understand how much.
©Copyright Georgia Green Stamper 2012