June 13, 2007

Grandma Mary

My mother was only 52 when my oldest Anne was born. I had to wait until 62 to become a grandmother. Look how young she looks. She was an incredibly energetic grandmother, the kind who takes their grandchildren to Europe. Teenage Anne once commented: "I could even visualize you and dad dying, but grandma is immortal." Sadly, she didn't live to meet her two great grandsons and her great-daughter. By year's end, there will be six great grandchildren.

The downside of women's having children after they are settled in their careers is that their parents are older. Their children might not be grown when the parents have to confront the dilemmas of elder care. My grandmother was 47 when I was born. She lived long enough to meet 23 great grandchildren. Of course, her children had their children much younger as well.

My mother, my aunts, and their friends had their children young, then went back to school and embarked on a new career in their forties. For the most part, they did well. My Aunt Rosemarie went to law school at age 40, and went on to be chief counsel to the president of Stonybrook University.

Becoming a Grandmother

My first grandchild Michael was born May 9. 2007 to my oldest daughter Anne. Anne and her husband live in New York City, only a 38-minute train ride away.

Because I am so close and because Anne has given me the incredible gift of welcoming my company, I have seen Michael almost every weekday since he was born, I have felt absolute joy getting to know him and watching my daughter and son-in-law blossom into wonderful parents.

June 11, 2007

My Grandma

My grandmother, Mary Catherine , born in 1898, left school after eighth grade. One of her first jobs was to mount women's combs on cards. She married my grandfather, a widowed lawyer with a toddler son, at age 22. She had seven children, four sons and three daughters; she raised her stepson as her own. Tragically one daughter died before she was two. Her husband died when she was 40; her children ranged from 17 to 2. She had lost her parents the year before. There was no social security, no pension, very little insurance. She collected rent from three small apartments in Brooklyn, but the apartments were the source of endless headaches. She worked part-time in a laundromat.

Grandma was a very loving, giving single mother; all her children turned out well--two lawyers, two teachers, a nurse, a social worker, a computer programmer. She was unavailingly there to help out when babies were born, when someone was sick, when someone was in crisis. A very religious women, she was empowered by her deep faith. When she died at age 86, she had 31 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren; most of them attended her funeral because they had loved her so much. She is my inspiration and role model.