Go Ahead, Call Me Grandma

Hey, twentysomethings, let’s see you do this

by Linda C Smith • More.com Member { View Profile }
Grandson Matt in "Gamma's" backyard.
Photograph: photo by Linda C Smith

I talked with a lady a year ago at an art show. I had my booth set up, the day was warm and sunny, and many hundreds of folks were enjoying music, art and wine. One of the things I love to do when manning my booth at a show is talk with people. People – in general – are interesting and sometimes say the darndest  things. 

At first this lady asked me about my work. We talked about the paintings and she browsed through the prints. We found, as we talked, that we had a few things in common: She grew up in the Central Valley of California and so did I; she has two daughters, I have two daughters; she has grandchildren and my grandson was one year old at the time of this art show. However, our take on being grandmas couldn’t have been different.   She didn’t like being called “grandma.” She said it made her feel old.

And I thought we were relating so well! She completed her purchase of a few prints and notecards and I wished her a good afternoon. I admit to having felt perplexed at her attitude. For me, from the instant I laid eyes on my grandson I fell deeply, head-over-heels in love. And my love only deepens and grows as he does. He’s nearly 2 ½ as of this writing and through his eyes I find the world once again amazing and wonderful. Truth to tell, when I’m with Matt I feel younger. When he says, “Gamma, sit,” not only do I do as commanded, I thrill at being called “Gamma.”

I admit to being one of those women of a certain age…well, let’s be frank, 60 is a mere two winters away and I don’t really mind. Knowing what I know, and knowing there are categories of information I no longer have to learn, is a very cool thing. For instance, I know for a certainty what a “dash” is, and a “pinch,” and a “tad bit.” I’ve been cooking for nigh on 50 years now. I know how to iron a man’s cotton shirt without making new wrinkles in it; I know when a cantaloupe is ripe.

I also know that midlife has a kind of relief to it. When you’re a woman in your 20’s you are so busy finding and being found…finding a mate is a fulltime job requiring great attention to hair, makeup and wardrobe. In the 30’s and 40’s career, family-raising…maybe even still doing the find/found tasks all require great energy and attention.

I’m loving the 50’s – well, not the aches and pains of aging, nor the really weird fat re-distribution thing the female body does at menopause – but I’m loving the not having to pay so much attention to hair, makeup and wardrobe.   I still have my suits in the closet, my “good” clothes, but my daily uniform now is comfortable khaki slacks, a tunic top and sandals, with which I wear fun socks. When he visits, Matt likes to help “Gamma” pick the socks I’ll wear that day. Sometimes I like to wear my suit trousers with a tee shirt and man’s long sleeve shirt (with the sleeves rolled halfway up) as an over-shirt. You just get to have fun with wardrobing when you don’t have to obsess about it.  

Rather, my attention is taken up with fulfilling some dreams I’ve been neglecting over the years.  My art is also my home business and I love spending time in my studio. I have the pleasure and joy of experimentation and exploration.  I finally have devoted time to writing. I’ve discovered that creativity in one area can often translate into others.  One daughter introduced me to scrapbooking and I’m exploring that.  

Relationships change in midlife. My daughters are grown and our relationship has changed…we’re more friends than mom/daughter and it is so much fun.  They are  married and I love the phone calls that ask me the “how to” questions and the “why is my husband…” questions.   My husband and I are great friends. We don’t play the keeping up with the Jones thing, and so don’t spend our money on the latest cars and gadgets; we do what brings us joy. 

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