Last week was pretty rough at work. We were still down two dispatchers due to people having left the company awhile ago, Jen is still out on maternity leave, Erik went on vacation, Matt & Brad went down to North Carolina to pick up a few new ambulances, and several other people were out sick. I put in way too many hours and am going to end up with a ridiculous amount of overtime in my check that will definitely make Uncle Sam very happy. Suffice it to say, the week wore me out and I think I've been carrying over some of that residual tiredness to this week. After all, I'm not as young as I used to be - a fact that people just love to remind me of on a regular basis!
I was still feeling pretty worn out the other morning when one of the paramedics that I work with referred to me as "grandma". Initially I took offense to the comment and then the light bulb went on ... "DUH! I am a grandma!" Because my son and his wife live in Rhode Island, I don't see my grandson very often so it's a little too easy to forget that not only am I old enough to be a grandmother, I am a grandmother.
I think part of the problem is that I don't really consider myself to be old (even though there are days when I feel like I was around before Rome was in ruins) and for some reason I have the mindset that grandparents are, well, old! What I keep forgetting is that I am at the age where a lot of people become grandparents for the first time. My own parents were only 46 when my son Michael was born and my friends Cyndi and Rhonda have both held the title of grandmother for several years. Ealier today I came across an old newspaper announcement for the birth of a granddaughter to one of the guys I used to work with at Norwich PD and I initially thought, "wow, he can't be old enough to be a grandfather" but then I thought, well, why not, his son is older than mine. I have to wonder though if, having kids at home younger than mine, he feels like a grandfather? Which brings me to the question of "what exactly is a grandparent supposed to feel like?"
I was very lucky when it came to my own grandparents though I didn't have the requisite two on each side. My mother's mother died when I was only three months old but my grandmother on my father's side was your typical "granny" and that's exactly what she was called - though in later years she always referred to herself as "Old Gram B". If I've inherited nothing else from her, I have acquired some very unique phrases that I hope to write about in a future entry! My grandmother was your typical old Swamp Yankee who used to knit clothes for my dolls, made a mean raisin-filled cookie, and treated me like gold. I can still remember trips to the big "city" of Willimantic sitting between her and Maurice, my step-grandfather who always smelled (not unpleasantly) like the barns he worked in.
On my mother's side, my grandfather was my idol (and still is). If ever there was a storybook grandfather, my Gramp was one and then some. He had the patience of a saint, a fantastic sense of humor, and brewed a homemade root beer with a kick like a mule! Some of my fondest memories are of times spent with my grandfather - Sunday dinners at his house, car trips to apple orchards or to get ice cream with six of us cousins stuffed in his old bought-at-auction State police cruiser, trips to Mystic Seaport and Sturbridge Village, or just sitting on his lap while he read the Sunday comics to us. I swear there are times when I can still smell his Old Spice aftershave and feel his whiskers on my cheek.
Maybe that's why I have so much trouble picturing myself as a grandparent - I'm still looking at grandparents the way that I looked at mine and my best memories of them were when they were older. Technically, though, they weren't exactly old when they became grandparents - only a few years older than I am now - which is a sobering thought! I think they grew into being fantastic grandparents over time and someday I think - I hope! - I will, too. Right now I'm not very good in the grandparenting department but I hope that when Mathew is older, he'll have good memories of me, too. Memories that perhaps 30+ years later he'll be sitting down to write about if he inherits my enjoyment of writing about everything and nothing!
Maybe that's the greatest thing we can leave our children and grandchildren - memories that they will treasure for a lifetime. I know I treasure the memories my grandparents and parents have given me and, no matter what else I might forget in this life, I hope I never lose those memories for they're truly my inheritance in this life.