Currently reading: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

(Thanks to Sarah Fine for the recommendation.)

Yeah, the currently reading thing is new. But I pick a lot of my books based on what other people are reading, and I love to talk books. So I’ll start including that on my blog entries. Feel free to comment on the book and ignore the post if you want. 🙂

When I was a kid, I was the type of person you’d have to tie to a chair to get to listen to adults talk about their childhood. I didn’t know my paternal grandparents at all (in fact, I don’t even know what their names were), and my maternal grandfather passed away before I was born. So I just had a grandmother, on my mother’s side.

I couldn’t stand her.

I remember screaming at her incoherently when I was nine years old. I don’t even remember why, I just remember I was furious at her for something she’d done or said or some way she’d treated me.

She was kind of hard of hearing, so she didn’t hear a word I said, and she finally turned around and saw me crying and said, “What’s wrong with you?”

She was kind of partial to boys. She had three sons and one daughter (my mother), and she always treated my brother better than she treated me. I remember one birthday (mine) she took my brother to the mall and spent a ton of money on him. She then proceeded to give me a pencil sharpener because she thought I would find it cute. Of course this made me resent both my grandmother and my brother.

It’s a miracle that my mom is so amazing. Seriously.

My grandmother passed away when I was in my twenties, not long before I got married. Now, in retrospect, I wish I’d taken the time to get to know her. She was born in Ireland, and she was one tough cookie. She raised four children through sheer force of will. She raised my mother to be a strong, incredible woman. (I am in awe of my mother.)  In all rights, my grandmother was an amazing person. But because I went through childhood absolutely loathing her, by the time I hit my twenties, I’d closed that door. I just wasn’t interested.

Now, I wish I had taken the time. What was her childhood like? Was there a reason she favored boys? How did she come to America from Ireland all by herself? You know how they say you should take a recording of people when they’re old, because once they’re gone, they can’t tell you stories anymore? I wish we’d made a recording of my grandmother. Then again, she might not have been willing to talk. We’ll never know.

I bring all this up because I was in the car with my husband and his parents the other night. Michael (my husband) and John (his father) were lit after spending the evening at a charity bull roast. Being pregnant, I was stone sober and driving. But they were reminiscing about Mike’s grandfather, and all the incredible things they’d done together. How he’d snuck Mike into football games when he was a little boy, or all the times he’d taken him to the track. Mike was very close to his grandfather, and I love to hear him tell stories about him. I never knew a grandfather (or even a grandparent who liked spending time with me), so it’s incredibly sweet to hear stories of people who get along with their grandparents.

Now, I see how Nick is with my mom. He loves his grandma, and she loves him as though the sun rises and sets on his command alone. I see how Nick is with Mike’s dad, the way John will get down on the floor and play trains with him. I see how Nick is with Mike’s mom, the way Dolly will give him a cookie just because he’s cute, and makes him feel like the only grandchild even though she has about sixty of them. (Not really. But if you get in her house on a holiday, it feels that way.)

Nick is going to grow up knowing his grandparents. So will baby-to-be. That warms my heart, and makes me long for something I never had.

What about you guys? Are you close to your grandparents? Are your kids?


6 thoughts on “Family

  1. This is such a lovely post, Brigid. I grew up thinking my grandparents were pretty magical. I was fortunate to have both sets until I was a freshman in college and my maternal grandmother passed away. Now I still have both my dad’s parents, but they’re in their 90s. They live all the way across the country, but you’ve reminded me maybe I should Skype them (yes, my 96yo grandfather knows how to Skype).

    I hope you love WG, WG as much as I did!

  2. I didn’t know my maternal grandparents very well. They didn’t live near us or visit very often. My paternal grandfather died long before I was born. And I adored my paternal grandmother–so much that if we were having this conversation in person, I’d probably be crying by now. She took care of me from the time I was a baby (both of my parents worked) until she had a stroke when I was 7. Most of my memories are of her in the nursing home or coming to our house for day visits. She was loving, strict, interested in each of us grandkids, strong, opinionated, and determined to rule the house even from her wheelchair. I admire her more than anyone else I’ve ever known.

    This post is timely. We were just talking yesterday about the importance of extended family. There’s something about the love you can feel for someone who loves *you* without any legal obligation. 🙂

    (And let me know how you like WG, WG. I have it but haven’t started it yet.)

  3. When I remarried a few years ago, my daughter was lucky enough to get an extra set of grandparents in the deal. A few days before my husband and I were married, I was on the phone with his mom, and she said something about her “eight grandchildren.” After I hung up, I thought–that’s strange, she only has seven grandchildren. And then I realized she was talking about my daughter. I called her back, in tears, and thanked her for accepting my child–not as a “step-grandchild,” but as a full member of her family.

  4. I ADORED my maternal grandmother. Her husband had passed away 2 years before I, the last grandchild and rather a surprise to everyone, was born. Grandma was already in her seventies, blind in one eye, and with a bad heart, but, she told my stressed mom, “I can tend a baby.” Hence, my mother could help my dad with the family business and Grandma had a purpose in life. She was useful and happy. (Fortunately, I was a rather calm child and didn’t give her too much trouble.)
    She moved in with us when I was 10 and she died a year later. I still miss her.

  5. I’m so lucky in this regard! I grew up with all four grandparents and four great-grandmothers! They all lived close and I “knew” them.

    I’m tremendously close to my maternal grandmother. We talk on the phone several times each week and my kids always have to have their “Grandma Edie” time. I don’t know what I’ll do without her!

  6. I came over here from Sarah J. Maas. Elemental sounds absolutely wonderful! I’m adding it to my list of books I can’t wait to read and am now following you 🙂

    Good luck!!!

    And, yes, while I don’t talk with my dad’s parents as often as I wish since they retired in Arizona, I did get to visit them in Feb, which was nice. I don’t remember my mother’s father, but her mother…we used to visit her just about every weekend as children! She was wonderful 🙂

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