When I opened the newspaper, the morning of April 25th, 2009, I noticed a small caption on one side of the 2nd page, commemorating the day to all grandmothers, worldwide. It was “International Grandmothers Day”. After ‘mother’s day’, ‘father’s day’ and ‘so-and-so’ day for God knows everybody else, ‘grandmothers’ are finally getting a day of their own. Although I don’t put much stock in “days” I felt it was unfair for our grandmothers not to have their own day.
Grandmothers! What would we do without them! They play such an integral part in our lives and in shaping our thoughts, don’t they? My thoughts veered to my own grandmother. She was such a fine woman (she passed away years ago). Although she did not get much of a formal education she was blessed with a sharp intelligence and a wit to match. She had fine white hair, a soft round body and a kind face, lined with years of hardships and experience that life had dealt her. She was a storehouse of scriptural wisdom and I owe all my knowledge about the scriptures, among other things, to her.
As we lived in the city situated in another state, I would wait with bated breath to go visit her in our native village almost every year during my school vacations. I can still picture her waiting by the gate, eagerly awaiting our arrival. The moment I would catch sight of her, I would rush forward to be enveloped in a big hug, filled with a feeling of having “come home”. She lived in our sprawling ancestral house with acres of wooded land around it, filled with fruit bearing trees of coconut, mango, cashews, plantains and jack fruit, alongwith my aunts and their families. My cousins would get an earful from her, for my misbehavior and they would wail, “We did not do it. She did it.” pointing to me. I would put on an innocent face that would convince her because her “She could not have done it. I know her” would have my cousins fuming and my quickly suppressed giggles would not help matters.
Afternoon, after lunch, was siesta time and all my cousins, my brother and I would gather around my grandmother for a grand story session that lasted a couple of hours. She would lie on the wide bed propped with pillows and I would have my head (going up and down with her breath), resting on her huge stomach, my arms spread across her wide girth. Her voice would drone on and by the end of it, we would have all dropped off to sleep. It all seemed so long ago. Her passing away was like an end of an era and I have never felt the old elation of visiting our house in the village, the front gate looking empty without her standing there.
I am so happy that my children have the good fortune to enjoy the love of their grandmothers, although their paternal grandmother is no more now, who was a dear and generous to a fault. My mother, who raised us with unenviable discipline, is putty in their hands. It never fails to amaze me to see her toe their line which has always been a bone of contention between us, as I feel my parental authority being challenged.
However, she has been like a rock of Gibraltar in my life, having looked after every need of both my children during the first three months of their lives and continuing to offer her support for the past two decades, up to this day. It is truly comforting to know that she is there to offer her wisdom and personal experiences but it can be exasperating too when she assumes that she knows best and worse when she turns out to be right. Nevertheless, she is the quintessential picture of what a grandmother should be and I am very thankful to God for giving me a wonderful mother. I dread to think of the day she would not be around anymore to love, advice, suggest, argue or irritate us.
Studies show that a person’s emotional intelligence’ reaches its peak in the early 60s, which is why grandparents have such empathy and sensitivity in their mental make-up, even if they were probably stern and strict to reckon with, in their younger days. Other emotions like ‘sadness and loneliness’ also get enhanced, at the end of their lives. I think, grandchildren, even more so, should be thankful and owe it to themselves to ensure that their grandparents stay happy, fulfilled and content. Why thankful? For giving them such wonderful parents, what else? hahaha.