Crossing the Threshold

Crossing the Threshold

From Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul

Crossing the Threshold

From where I stood to where you are. These are years of mystery that we can never share . . . yet love and understanding can build a bridge for us to cross and so reach each other in ways that matter to us both.

Lois Wyse

As my daughter grew larger, the happy thoughts of grandparenting grew on me. I began to get used to the idea, relishing my fantasies about the baby and thoroughly enjoying my daughter’s interest in talking to me about pregnancy and parenthood. Although my trepidation was not completely assuaged, I was excited. With the reality of a new baby on the way, I began knitting a sweater and lingering in baby shops. The clincher was meeting the baby, a healthy little girl who arrived three weeks early while I was out of town. I couldn’t return to Los Angeles fast enough. Driving to Santa Barbara, I could hardly contain my excitement as we rushed to the hospital.

There she was, Caitlin Lilly. The Lilly is after me. Carrie, my little girl, was holding her little girl. At that moment I crossed the threshold of grandparenthood, a crossing I’ll never forget.

I feel a bit uncertain holding this tiny baby. She looks so fragile. I look for familiar features . . . her mouth, ears, eyes, the shape of her face. Who does she resemble? Could that be my father’s chin? Are those my mother’s eyes or, maybe, even mine? It seems easier to think about her looks in terms of others than of myself. Are her long fingers like her father’s? Yes.

Reluctantly I recognize that I must share her with the “other side.” They, too, have a claim on her. I feel possessive. She’s mine—my grandchild. I’m her grandma. Although she has no idea who I am, she will. I will see to that. In her, I see my history carried forward. The experiences of my ancestors are now stored in her, and she doesn’t even know it . . . or me. She is the future. She will carry the genetic thread forward, beyond me, beyond my time. This is breath-stopping. It is life, past, present and future all rolled into one six-pound, twelve-ounce person. It is difficult to give words to my feelings. A wave of time and emotion is washing over me. It is heady. I ask myself, What I can do here? What is my place in her life? I want to do so much. I want her to have everything . . . everything good and beautiful, only kindness and warmth and a pony. Yes, she must have a pony as her mother did. May she be blessed with a strong body and mind in order to savor life, a fine education, a peaceful world. We will not have to escape the pogroms of Eastern Europe as her great-grandfather, my father, did.

While I think of all I want for her, how I will guard the history she holds, how I will nurture all of the possibilities for the future she possesses, how I will protect her and keep her safe, her father approaches. It is time for her to be fed. An abrupt reminder that she is not mine, that it is not my will or vision that prevails. I must entrust her to them, my daughter and son-in-law, lovely children with no experience. How will they know what to do? They are going to raise this baby? This precious bundle who holds the key to continuity in my life, the link to my past and future? How can that be? Is that safe? Smiling, he takes her from me. I smile, too, to cover up my sense of loss. She is my link. But she is not mine. I must learn to share. But I will find a way to make my mark. I will put my two cents in. She will know she has a Grandma Lilly. She will have a wonderful life. I am resolved. But how do I do it?

Lillian Carson, D.S.W.
Excerpted from The Essential Grandparent™: A Guide
to Making a Difference by Dr. Lillian Carson

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