Monday, October 31, 2011

Baklava and Lima Beans

My grandmother Chrysler, with
her two sons around 1945. 
My father is on the left.
 When my daughter, Holly, walked into my house looking rather pale and carrying a bowl, I had my suspicions.  I know morning sickness when I see it.  Especially when it lasts past morning.  Holly announced that she was expecting my first grandbaby.  At 26, she was six years older than I was when I gave birth to her.  Surprisingly, my emotions were mixed.  I was thrilled and concerned, since Holly obviously inherited my tendency to be very sick. 
But I was much too young to be a grandmother.  My youngest child, Abbie, was not quite 10 years old, and my boys would be 13, 16 and 23 when my new granddaughter was born.  I was still an active mom, shuffling between football, tennis and music lessons.  I still had a playpen and Fisher Price toys in the closet. 
I was suddenly in the midst of an identity crises. 
Apparently, I am not alone.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average age for first-time grandmothers is 47.  The memories I have of my own grandmothers are not of youthful women in their 40’s.  I can’t imagine them cheering to the point of embarrassment as their teenager crosses the finish line in a track meet.  I can’t imagine them serving more fast food than home cooked meals in a single week.  In fact, I don’t recall them ever eating at a fast food restaurant.  Not once.
My two grandmothers were polar opposites.  One was a product of the Depression and could have been very happy living in a Hooverville (Ironically, her surname was Hoover).  The other, my paternal grandmother, was rather well off and regularly dyed her beautiful red hair which was pulled up in an ornate twist.  In spite of their differences, they had one important thing in common:  they truly loved their grandchildren.  They showed their love in very different ways, but it usually involved food. 
Grandma Hoover let us pick cherries from her trees and my older sister and I sported red hands from canning and eating the sweet fruit.  From her, I learned to eat lima beans and brussel sprouts without throwing up.  Grandma Chrysler (who indeed drove a Chrysler), simmered her amazing spaghetti sauce all day while our mouths watered in anticipation.  She made delicious Baklava and sent chocolate tortes in the mail at Christmas.  Each of these women were comfortable in their aprons and in their grandmotherly roles.
As I awaited the arrival of my new granddaughter, I did a lot of soul searching, trying to identify my possible skills, which did not include cooking.  But before I could establish a firm set of goals, the sweet baby arrived.  She looked so much like her mother that it was almost déjà vu.  Suddenly, I felt right at home in my new role, which didn’t seem that different from the one I already have. 
And even though I’ve never made Baklava or served lima beans, I think I can do this.


  1. I love this personal story! You make me want to be an awesome grandmother some day! This is great!

  2. I'm sure that even though you don't make baklava your granddaughter will have as many cherished memories of you someday as you have of your own grandmothers! Thank you for sharing this story and for being refreshingly honest about what it feels like to find out you have your first grandkid on the way!