Having young parents often means having young grandparents. Mom was eighteen when I was born.
For much of my childhood, I enjoyed both grandmothers and grandfathers and three great grandmothers. I loved the reaction I would get from people when I talked about visiting all five of my grandmothers on Christmas Eve. I wasn’t close to my great grandmothers but I loved that they were mothers to my favorite people in the world.
I still love the reaction I get when I say that I’m going to visit my grandmother. She’s in her early nineties and until a couple of months ago lived alone in her own home. The home she shared with my grandfather that welcomed her family for over fourty years.
She broke her hip.
Every holiday, Nanny cooked a huge dinner, never really knowing how many would show up. She never sent out an invitation. It was understood that we were all welcome.
When I was a little girl, Nanny Chase’s Christmas dinner was served at noon. I’d be busting at the seams to get to her house. To walk in the back door and have the smell of her turkey and gravy wash over me was one of my private Christmas traditions.
Nanny didn’t make a big deal over me. She didn’t make a big deal over anyone. It wasn’t her way but we knew. We knew that we were her world. Having her family together in her home for those few chaotic hours was Christmas for her and us. My aunts and uncles and all of my younger cousins together with my grandparents eating, laughing, teasing and telling stories.
It was magic…
As the years went by and her grandchildren started having their own families, not everybody would go to her house for dinner Christmas dinner. There are too many of us. Still, at some point, on Christmas Eve or Christmas day each of us would drop by to see her. Last Christmas Eve she told me what she was serving for Christmas dinner.
I asked her who was coming.
She wasn’t sure…
I visit Nanny at the hospital now. I know well how blessed I am. How many people, my age, would love the opportunity to sit and chat with their grandmother? She tells me stories about her children or her childhood. I catch her up on Ralph and the girls. We walk the hallway to exercise her hip. As we stood together looking out a window, she calmly told me that the doctor said she wouldn’t be going home. I already knew but having her tell me was like having my heart ripped out of my chest. Her life is forever changed and her family’s with it.
If she could pretend it was all right, then so could I. With my hand over her’s, we continued down the hall talking about other things.