Saturday, August 16, 2008


I would like to live 10 more years - if I am in decent health, of course. Let me refine that a little bit, if I am in decent mental health. In 10 years I will be 83-- and if my mother's genes win out, I'll be long gone, and if my dad's genes win out, I'll have a few more years than that. Ten years will take it to 2018, which is before the asteroid is due to hit and before Medicare runs out, so that is good news.

I have picked the number ten because that will be the year my youngest grandchild, Justine, turns 15.

I was one of those kids who didn't much have grandparents available to them. Both grandpas were dead before I was born and one grandma died when I was 5 but since she lived in Colorado I have no recollection of her at all. My other grandma I only remember vaguely. I was 10 when she died and should have remembered, but she was busy with a job and a boyfriend and they went dancing all the time and she simply was not a part of my life at all. I have a picture of her holding my 5th birthday cake, but if it wasn't for the picture, I am not sure how much of an independent recollection I would have.

I have 13 grandchildren, ranging in age from 34 to 5. Justine and Olivia, the two youngest, are 5 and 7. The rest of the grandchildren are all 16 and older. The reason I want to live 10 more years is because I figure by then I will have played enough of a role in the lives of these two little ones that they will remember their grandma -- and will have these memories to share with their own kids when the time comes.

This of course is one of the reasons I baby-sit them as often as I can. I also sit on the floor a play with them, something I didn't do with the other grandkids. My mother was a floor-sitting grandma and my kids adored her. I don't know that I want to be adored, but I surely would like to be remembered by them as a grandma who was a lot of fun.

This business of creating memories takes odd twists. One evening I was getting the girls ready to get into the bathtub and they were horsing around. I finally said, "Get your bahunkases in the bathtub!" They came to a dead stop. What is a bahunkas, they asked. I told them it was their rear end, which sent them into peals of laughter, for they call it their "tush" or "tushie." My mother used the word "bahunkas" on occasion and it was a perfectly good word in our household. (Actually, any euphemism was ok, just not "butt" or "ass," two forbidden words at our house.) So the girls had to carry on in the bathtub about their bahunkases. It made a hit.

Several days later, daughter Kerry phoned and said "What word did you use for the girls' tushies?" When I told her she said, "Oh, yea, I remember Maa-Maa (her grandma) used to call it that." It was then I realized the making of memories was not necessarily what I did for the girls or where I took them or what I gave them; rather, it would be merely imparting of the essence of me, whatever that is.

One day several years ago when they were fussing while I drove them home from their day care, I told them if they would be very quiet I'd sing them a song about a little birdy. I pulled out of my bag of memories an old girl scout song, "Way Up in the Sky, the Little Birds Fly" -- and I did the hand movements with the song. It is not a stock nursery school song, and the girls were delighted with it. We sing it at least 5 times a day whenever I baby-sit -- always at their request. That too is part of the essence of me.

I don't care if down the road they don't remember exactly what I looked like, but I am hoping they will have a warm comfy feeling about this grandma who can't be in their lives as much as she would wish. I figure I'll have that essence imprinted in them by the time "Tini" is 15.


Stacey said...

You are a great grandma. One that will definitely be remembered long after you are done. (at least ten years from now...I am hoping for long as you are in good health, of course!) Love ya!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh believe me, they found quite a bit of humor in the word "bahunkass"...did I ever tell you that one time the four of us, led by Brian of course sang the rhyming game...bahunkass...palonkass...schalongkass..dadonkass...oh mom...they'll remember you alright but not for your "old legs"...K