On Mother’s Day, here’s to the grandmothers

There are 90 years, 2 months and 13 days between the two people in the photograph below. This is my daughter with my grandmother on the very first day that they finally got to meet. I don’t know for sure if, by then, my grandmother knew exactly who I was and who had brought her a baby, but I like to think that she did.

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On Friday, I gave one of two eulogies at Granny Molly’s funeral. She died on Thursday, May 4, at the age of 91, which means I was fortunate enough to have her in my life for more than 42 years. (42: the answer to life, the universe and everything.)

I was very close to her for much of my life. As I reflected on Friday, “everyone should have a Granny Molly in their lives”. That tribute to her was very much on behalf of her eight grandchildren, of which I am the eldest.

Some of my earliest memories involve Granny Molly: walking up the hill from my parents’ home to hers, lying on her bed while she tickled my back and told me stories about a little boy called Seedy Weedy, who lived in Plettenberg Bay and who loved to “pee in the seagull’s eye”. I lived with her before I got married and after my divorce; she was a constant fixture in my life, the family matriarch around whom the rest of us revolved.

I am so very fortunate to have had a grandmother who loved me – and spoiled me – and was there for me when it mattered most. RaRa is lucky enough to be very close to her grandmother too. Long before my daughter was born so far ahead of schedule, my mother told me that she would not let me put my child into daycare. So it is that every work day, I take her to my parents’ home, where my mother, my aunt Janet and my mother’s helper Joyce all help to feed, change and entertain my baby while I am in meetings and hunched behind my laptop drawing PowerPoint slides.

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On Friday, RaRa attended Granny Molly’s funeral. She didn’t know what was going on, of course. For most of the requiem mass, she prattled happily, speaking – in baby talk – on behalf of all the great grandchildren. Her innocent cheeriness brought smiles to an otherwise solemn occasion, and I like to think that my grandmother would have been charmed.

Later, in the church hall, we had tea and coffee and sandwiches, and chatted to relatives we last spoke to at the last funeral. RaRa got tired and hungry, so my aunt Janet fetched a bag with food and a bib from her car, and my mother and I sat at one of the tables and fed the baby before a familiar aroma signalled that it was time to change her nappy. Life goes on, and the baton passes from mother to daughter, grandmother to granddaughter. I look forward to seeing the relationship between my daughter and my mother grow, and flourish in all sorts of interesting ways.

Here’s to the grandmothers who add so much to our lives, and to whom we owe so much.

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