"" Writer's Wanderings: A Grandma By Any Other Name

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Grandma By Any Other Name

[This week I'll be taking a break from blogging so I am scheduling posts of some of my articles from a grandparenting column I wrote a few years ago.]

This time of year there is a wildflower that blooms around our area and on my morning walk I noticed a field that was peppered with them. I’ve tried to find out the correct name for them but haven’t hit upon it yet in my search. My aunt called them blue bachelor buttons. They resemble an aster but the plant doesn’t grow like an aster. For me, they are the flowers I collected at the bus stop that filled my small fist on the trips into downtown Cleveland with my aunt on her “city day.”

My aunt, my father’s sister, lived next door to us with my grandfather. I never understood all the dynamics of why but it didn’t matter to me growing up. Auntie Ann as we called her even into our adult years was in fact a “grandmother” to me. My maternal grandmother died a few months before I was born and my other grandmother died when I was almost two. My Auntie Ann became the spoiler, the listener, the one to run to when I felt I was misunderstood at home—in essence a substitute grandmother.

I credit part of my love of reading to her constant supply of comic books for my consumption. Every grocery day, my brother and I would hurry over to help her unload the grocery bags. We knew there would be a treat in one of them. Mine was usually a comic book. I don’t remember my brother’s. I lived for that new reading material. On our city days, I was treated to a bus ride into town, lunch at the department store, and if I behaved (and of course, I always did), I got to pick out my own comic book.

Auntie Ann provided for a need in my life. A need to have the unconditional love of a grandmother. My brother’s children lost their grandmothers at a young age and through the years I tried to be a bit of a substitute grandmother in remembering their birthdays, taking an interest in their lives, and trying to provide that unconditional love of a grandma even though I am the aunt. I had a good teacher.

There’s always room in our grandma hearts for one more and while we never want to replace a grandma, there are children who need that relationship and don’t have it. If you can substitute as a grandma for a little one, you will enrich your life as well as theirs. Many schools and some libraries have programs where seniors can help small children to learn to read. It is also an opportunity for some of those kids to be able to have the relationship with a grandparent-figure that is lacking in their lives. Volunteering at your church nursery or toddler room is another way to substitute. Do you know any single moms who might need a grandma for their children?

Those blue flowers that remind me of my substitute grandma have a name but it’s really not important what I call them. I love them for what they are—a fond memory of my Auntie Ann. She taught me that a grandma by any other name loves just as much.

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