I count myself lucky, among friends and other twenty-somethings, to have two amazing and loving grandmothers in my life. I adore them both, and do not see them as often as I would like. With Mother’s Day approaching, I began a post entitled “Lessons from my Mother”. I’ll share this post on Sunday. While writing, however, I realized I’ve had the privilege of learning from, and spending time with, my two darling grandmothers- and decided to celebrate “Mother’s Weekend”, and share a similar post dedicated to the influence both women have on my life.
Today I will continue my ‘mini series’ honoring the mothers in my life. I wrote about my steadfast Grandma and her love-filled cookies here, and will conclude the series on Sunday (Mother’s Day) with my own mother.
My Mommom (my mother’s mother) is one of the loveliest, most amazing women that I know. My Mommom and Grandfather met in high school.
My Mommom and Grandpop at Prom- 1951
Married now for 59 years, Mommom and Grandpop raised two daughters, and a whole menagerie of animals.
My Mommom, like my mother, is sharp and witty. I can trace my speed reading abilities up the family tree through my Mother to my Mommom. I wish I had inherited my Mommom’s green thumb, but every plant I touch tends to die. The ultimate DIY crafter, my Mommom’s knit Christmas stockings and hand braided rugs are just a sampling of her abilities.
The stories I will share today paint a picture of my Mommom as the loving wife, mother and grandmother that she is.
Lesson #1- boys will be boys… so let them. This may seem a bit strange, considering my Mommom had two daughters. However, as each day brings me closer to my wedding and future with the love of my life, I cannot help but to reflect on the marriages of my parents and grandparents (all of which are inspiring). My Mommom must absolutely be the most patient and accepting woman that I know. The woman kept a home, perfected a recipe for homemade spaghetti and meatballs, and raised two girls, all while her husband (my amazing, animal-loving, Eagle Scout Grandpop) ran a mini zoo in the house. By the time I came around, my Mommom and Grandpop had a fairly ‘normal’ collection of pets. Dogs, a couple of parrots, and a hawk in the backyard.
What’s that you say? A hawk is not your typical cuddle-buddy pet? Alright, so maybe that wasn’t so normal. For us, though, a hawk in the backyard at Mommom & Grandpop’s house was simply the norm. My grandfather is a falconer (Yes, that link will take you to the wikipedia page on falconry. Read up.) and so we were used to Grandpop’s hawks. If you find this unusual, however, just wait. When my mother was growing up, my Grandpop’s pets were slightly odder, even, than a hawk.
I’ve heard tales of pet raccoons, baby chicks, an owl and… a skunk. I did a little fact checking, and received this list from my mother:
“When I was growing up we had: baby chicks from Easter that grew into crowing roosters in our back bedroom of our Philadelphia row house, a crow named Pete that could talk and whistle, a raccoon named Snoopy who could (and did) flood the basement by turning on the water, a skunk named Rosebud, 2 flying squirrels (both of which drowned in the toilet), a chinchilla, an iguana named Lizzie, 4 little saw whet owls, and several dogs, but no cats because Mother does not like cats. When Dad got into falconry, they had a great horned owl named Plato and then many hawks, several of which they raised from infancy. A prairie falcon named Sundance learned to fly by flying from lampshade to lampshade in my parents’ living room. Dad trapped a white footed deer mouse in a havahart trap and decided to keep it as a pet. It was pregnant, so soon they had an aquarium full of mice, all of which escaped into the house when Dad took the lid off the cage. We also had hamsters and guinea pigs, but those were normal.”
My mother finished this list with the words: “Yes, your Mommom is a saint.”
I’ve also heard tell of my Grandfather’s tendency to pick up roadkill off the side of the road, and store it in the family freezer. (Hawk food. duh).
I never once heard my Mommom complain about these animals. Is it possible that, behind closed doors, my Grandpop got an earful every now and then? I’d imagine so. Maybe when Snoopy the raccoon flooded the basement, or possibly after the litter of deer mice escaped into the house. Even so- their marriage is now 59 years strong. I believe that my Mommom loved and accepted my Grandpop for the naturalist, adventurer that he is, and did not try to change him. Too many relationships today are marred by one partner demanding drastic changes of the other. I will try, in my marriage, to remember my Mommom’s patience. If my (future) husband spends an entire Saturday playing video games, or disagrees with me on a political issue (that one is not an *if* but a *when), rather than demanding that he change or adjust his personality to better suit mine, I will remind myself: Mommom lived with a skunk.
My Mommom & Me
Lesson #2: even though I can’t knit… I learned a lot. I do not know how to knit. I so wish that I did, so that I could knit scarves as Christmas gifts and baby blankets when my friends become mothers. My Mommom attempted to teach me to knit several times. It never worked. I lack patience. I am easily frustrated when I am not perfect at something right away. My mother tried to teach me to sew several times, with the same results. I grow tired of repetitive actions, cannot control my restless legs, and eventually… throw in the towel.
Despite my complete failure each time my Mommom broke out her knitting needles and beckoned me to join her on the couch, she continued to try. A major factor working against Mommom during these knitting lessons was that she attempted to teach me while we were on vacation. Who wants to learn to knit when the beach is three blocks away? Poor Mommom tried and failed at our knitting lessons for a few summers in a row, before throwing in the towel herself. I could kick myself, now, for not taking advantage of free lessons that would have led to years of happy crafting on my end. Mommom does not knit herself, anymore, and she never managed to teach my Mother (who claims left-handedness as an excuse), so now I need to get it together and teach myself.
Looking back now, I would not change a thing. I would not tell Mommom not to bother, to give up on me. Because on the occasions when we did sit side by side on the couch in our rented beach house, I got to soak up full, un-interrupted Mommom & me time. I got to hear stories of the annual family vacations to LBI back when my mother was a little girl. She shared tales of ridiculous pranks our boy-heavy family would play on one another. She’d sneak me a Werther’s butterscotch candy from her beach bag (they were a daily beach necessity) while patiently modeling the purl stitch. I was lucky, growing up. I was my parent’s only daughter, and my Mommom and Grandpop’s only granddaughter. Despite being the middle child (along with all of the usual neurosis that accompanies children in the middle), I was the logical choice for knitting lessons and shopping trips. And I am so grateful that my Mommom attempted to share her talents with me, because I was lucky enough to get her full attention. Someday, I’ll figure this whole knitting thing out, and I hope I can sit together with my Mommom on the couch and show her.
Mommom and Grandpop with their Great-Grandson (my nephew)