GRAND Magazine - March/April 2019 - 5
memories and moments
The double-edged nature of being a grandma
BY DONNE DAVIS
ell me a story about your grandma," my 11-year old
granddaughter asked during a recent visit.
"Well, you know you're named after her," I said
reminding her that my grandma Amelia is her namesake. "She
was my best friend when I was growing up. I loved spending
the night at her apartment because no matter what we did, I
enjoyed her company."
My grandma Amelia was a playful storyteller who was
devoted to my parents and my two brothers and me. She loved
to play cards with her circle of friends and traveled around the
world three times with my grandpa. But she was a homebody
at heart. A second-generation San Franciscan, she was 12-years
old in the 1906 earthquake and shared many stories of camping
out in Golden Gate Park during the aftermath.
I can picture her corner apartment in the San Francisco
Richmond district as vividly as if I were standing in it right now.
When my grandpa was alive (he died of a heart attack when I was
in high school,) I slept on their davenport in the living room right
beside the radiator which hissed in the morning when it first came
on. After he died, I slept in his twin bed beside my grandma.
"When I'm a grandma," she said,
"I'm going to tell my grandchildren
about you, Baba."
I could hardly wait until Saturday to go on one of our outings.
My grandma and I took the 38 Geary bus downtown dressed in
suits and white gloves. We admired the window displays in the
City of Paris, I. Magnin and Macy's in Union Square, then walked
down to Woolworth's Five and Dime for lunch at the counter. We
MARCH APRIL 2019
ordered "all-around strawberry sodas" - soda water, strawberry
syrup and strawberry ice cream and happily slurped up the last
drops through our straws.
Sometimes we took the cable car and walked through
Chinatown then slipped inside Old St. Mary's Church to light a
votive candle on the altar.
My favorite outing was to see the Saturday matinee at the
4-Star theater on Clement Street featuring "The Little Rascals."
Before we saw the movie, my grandma gave me a dime to spend
at the penny candy store across the street. The store had a long
glass display case with dozens of different kinds of candy - Likm-aid, red licorice whips, wax lips, Tootsie rolls, button candy dots,
Turkish taffy, and Kits. An old woman stood behind the counter,
wheezing as she patiently filled a little brown sack with the 20
pieces of candy I selected.
Our trip to the penny candy store is my granddaughter's
favorite story. She has a sweet tooth just like my grandma and
can't believe I could get 20 pieces of candy for a dime.
"When I'm a grandma," she said, "I'm going to tell my grandchildren about you, Baba." I thought of my grandma and how pleased
she'd be to know her namesake has a fondness for sharing family
stories. Later, I told my daughter Amelia's sweet pledge and teared
up knowing I would not be around to meet her grandchildren.
That's the "double-edged nature of being a grandma" writes
Robin Marantz Henig in her poignant New York Times essay: The
Agony and the Ecstasy of Grandmotherhood.
"Your thoughts turn powerfully toward the future - one that
now includes the grandchildren you adore - at the very same
moment you're reminded of your own absence from that future.
It's an odd mixture of birth and death, which is what gives grandmotherhood its beauty, as well as its specific and poignant pain."
Having recently lost my husband, I'm experiencing that paradox first hand. As I watch my granddaughters without their
beloved grandpa to witness all their milestones and joyous celebrations, I'm aware of my own mortality more than ever before.
Though my joy is bittersweet I cherish the precious moments that
I do get to share with them even more.
Donne Davis is the founder of the GaGaSisterhood, an
award-winning blog and social network for enthusiastic
grandmas. Ever since she became a grandma in 2003, she
has been on a mission to connect with other grandmas
and explore what it means to be a modern grandma
GRAND Magazine - March/April 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - March/April 2019
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GRAND Magazine - March/April 2019 - Contents
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