Grandmothers come in all colors, sizes and shapes (literally). They
come on all economic levels. Some live close to their grandchildren.
Some don't. Some have one or two of the little rugrats. Some have a
whole crew. Some help raise their grandchildren. Some don't. But
they all have one thing in common -- deep love for their grandchildren.
All this is also true of grandfathers, of course, but never having been
a grandfather I lack the personal touch.
My grandmother experience is a little different than that of most of my
friends. My own grandparents lived in Illinois while I grew up in
Colorado, so I saw them only on summer visits. My own sons moved on to
careers in other parts of the country when they got out of college. So
big families with grandchildren running in and out of the house are a
fascinating but mysterious phenomenon to me.
Here I am running close to last in the grandmother numbers race with
only three. And because I have never lived close to them, I didn't see
very much of them as they were growing up .
But now -- miracles do happen -- it's a new ballgame. I find myself
with three fascinating young adults in their twenties who have become my
loving -- if geographically distant -- close friends. I don't tell
them how to live their lives, and they don't treat me like a little old
lady who must be protected from reality. They seem to think that having
an 86 year old grandmother who is a columnist and who talks to them as
equals is cool.
The eldest graduated from C. C. last year. He is the one I have seen the
most, since he stopped two or three times a year as he traveled between
Colorado Springs and his home in Phoenix. He is the one who sent me a
postcard from the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where he was sipping a
Singapore Sling in the famous hotel which had hosted Rudyard Kipling and
Noel Coward. And he is the one who sits in my living room and talks
economics and politics and history. He has been an avid fan of violent
electronic games since childhood, Last week we sat on my living room
floor and he showed me how to wield some of those horrible weapons and
let my Seung Mina flatten his Ninja Taki a couple of times. In spite
of that, he has turned out to be a humorous, peaceful man and a great
Then there is the beautiful young woman whom I usually see once a year
and who has taught me a little bit about music, and a great deal about
talent and passionate commitment to her art. I don't know whether she
was singing before she learned to talk, but I suspect she was. Singing
has been her love and she has (I assure you I am not prejudiced) the
most beautiful operatic voice in the world. Move over, Beverly Sills.
Recently for her Master's presentation at Peabody Conservatory, she
produced, directed and starred in "La Voix Humaine" (the Human Voice),
by Francis Polenc. Next year she will study at the Royal College of
Music in London. We talk about everything, but mostly about music and
how drab the world would be without it.
The youngest of the trio was a slightly chubby boy the last time I saw
him. Today I probably would not recognize him if I met him on the
street. But he is the one who writes wonderful letters on his manual
typewriter -- because he finds the clacking of the keys soothing. He
was a philosophy/literature major at Columbia before he graduated this
spring. He wrote of people who keep searching for some kind of Truth.
"I approach it the way I approach literature. The actual truth of a
theory is not as important as how beautiful it is. The best theories I
have read are perfectly coherent and internally consistent, yet
obviously entirely false. That's much more fun." Spoken like a
philosopher! Incidentally, he is the only one of the three who has a
job at the moment.
Yes, grandmothers come in all colors, shapes and sizes. I think this
one may be the luckiest one of all.