Even though it had been ten years since the last electric shock treatment, the sisters were still uneasy when their mother would offer to take her grandchildren out for the day. They could never be sure if Elizabeth was suffering a manic phase, or dare to hope that this might be a hint of the return of their once adventurous mother. Elizabeth was adept at masking her depression when she had to, and keeping busy with the grandchildren added some structure and light to a boring and restrictive household routine. Besides, she loved being a grandmother, and was determined not to let anyone hold her back from fulfilling those duties.
…from page 228 of “Signs Along the Way”
It is so good for us that Grandma Layton was so involved in our lives, in spite of our mother’s initial resistance. I can’t even imagine my childhood without Grandma in it… Would I know how to swim? Or sew? Or read, or write a book? Or spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? Or learn grace, independence, and how to write a thank you card? I don’t know – maybe. Well, probably – Mom was taught well by her mother, and she passed along a lot of those finer qualities – but it was a lot more fun with Grandma!
Mom adored her grandchildren, and she led them down a more cultural path: weekends at the Renaissance Festival, art shows, National Geographic magazines, telescopes, microscopes – and attended every school function she could – proudly applauding with every award collected by her little geniuses.
Alas – half-truths and outright lies, ulterior motives and control issues (among other character flaws) from a certain in-law have fathered family estrangements, and I have been branded a pariah by some souls I love the most – unable to heed my grandmotherly calling. The truth about grandmothers is that we are also mothers. And granddaughters. We’ve lived the spectrum, and will never settle for any of those roles by title only. What woman wants to go through the hard work of raising a child, and then be denied the joys of playing with her grandchildren? I would have been a wonderful grandma – I did learn from the very best!
Grandma Layton’s Mother’s Day drawing is at the head of this conversation, the caption reads: “Here sits the Matriarch on her throne, taking, taking, yet demanding more. I call this my sick cow look.” I couldn’t have gifted this drawing to a more deserving person…