Two-year-old Tim sat at the dining room table perusing the massive tome Toys R Us issues each Christmas season. Wow! Was my boy impressed!
He looked up with his big brown eyes shining. "Let's call Grandma!"
Grandma is celebrating a birthday today. How we wish we were there or you were here! Happy birthday!
What can I say to the mother of the man who is the love of my life? To the woman who has doted on my children as if they were each the first grandchild rather than numbers six through nine? To a Grandma who has never missed a birthday, a first communion, or Christmas despite the fact that we live 800 miles away? To a woman who has welcomed our late in life babies with unbridled joy and would probably be thrilled if we managed to pull off number five?
What can I say? I'll start with this:
- In the midst of energetic de-cluttering sprees, Grandma has declared certain toys sacrosanct. My boys will forever remember the magic of "Grandma's Basement." There they have whiled away hours playing trains and building with Legos.
- When we visit, Grandma makes sure Papa cleans the baby pool and replenishes the sandbox.
- Grandma has rarely been known to run out of chocolate syrup.
- Grandma is the best cook ever. Beanie wienies? Tim's favorite. Potato salad? Dave's favorite. Everything else she makes? My favorites.
- Grandma never fails to pick up a pint of Greek chicken salad just because she knows I love it.
- My husband sleeps more peacefully in his childhood home than anywhere else on planet Earth, no exaggeration. That says a lot.
- We visit often and typically arrive with four children and twenty-two bags, move into my in-laws' bedroom, stay up late, get up early, and never, ever feel that we are imposing.
- My children have innumerable memories of the polar bears at the zoo, putt-putt, the arcade parlor, the Henry Ford Museum, the bowling alley, Imax movies, dinosaur bones, and the list goes on -- all with Grandma and Papa.
Right before Dave and I married, Grandma took me aside and said, "You can call me Janet, or you can call me Mom, but Mrs. Dolin has got to go." I have felt like a family member ever since.
Shortly after Ainsley's birth, we met Grandma and Papa at Hilton Head. I watched Grandma ride the waves with Tim and Kolbe. Really, how many Grandmas can manage that? She is nothing if not game. (At that moment, I briefly reflected on the fact that when Ainsley is the age Dave was then, I will be ninety years old. I doubt I'll be riding the waves with her children!)
Grandma has ridden every wave of family life with a gusto I hope I can one day match.
She is funny and smart, both thoughtful and faithful. She has been steadfast and generous to aging friends and dying neighbors. She has confronted sorrows head-on, including one that hit us just last week. Life has a way of testing your mettle in ways that sear your heart. Grandma has shown me the value of family, the need for perseverance, the worth of prayer.
I would love to transfuse her graciousness into my veins and her largess into my heart. For today I simply say we love you and we wish you an extra jolt of joy and grace on your birthday.