I have dreamed of becoming a mother ever since I was a young girl playing with my cabbage patch doll. The April after the pandemic began, I found out my dream was coming true, and on December 2, 2020, my little girl Autumn was born. I was terrified despite, this being was something I always wanted. My mother was not an ideal role model. There are many important things I was never taught and had to figure out on my own. So, I made a list of everything I wish someone had taught me when I was growing up that I hope to teach Autumn. Maybe if someone had taught me these, I would be happier, have more self-confidence and know my worth. While I can’t change the past, I can affect the future. I promise to teach my daughter that she can do anything, be anything and that she’ll be a beautiful person no matter what path she follows. Please keep reading if you’d like to join me on that journey!

The first lesson I want to teach Autumn is to learn from her grandparents. Whether it be from something positive or negative they have done. I was fortunate growing up to have amazing grandparents: ( Grandma B) on my mother’s side and (Grandma and Grandpa T on my father’s). They were always there for my siblings and me.

Grandma B was born and raised in Scotland. My friends always commented how cool her accent but I never noticed it; to me, it was just her. Grandma B always helped around the house and with us kids. She would watch us when we were sick, make the best tuna fish sandwiches (buttering the bread is key), and always had our backs. She made the most delicious shortbread. One day she wrote down the cherished  recipe for me, but with an unstable home life and characteristic immaturity of a teenager,  I lost it. To this day it kills me to think about it. I keep experimenting with different recipes but have yet to find one that taste like hers. Around 2007, when I was 22, Grandma B started suffering from dementia. She would be at home and call for a taxi. When they arrived, she would get in and give them her home address. Thankfully, they were always kind. They would drive her around the block then drop her back home, never charging her (there are still good people in this world). She ended up being placed in an assisted living facility. She started to say things that didn’t make sense.  She would say she was in love and together with our stepfather (a man who will be discussed further in another post). When my father went to visit her, she didn’t remember him. They had known each other for more than 25 years. When he told me that happened, it terrified me. I was scared to go visit her and discover she did not remember who I was. She was one of the strongest people I have ever known. She had owned her own business, gotten divorced and raised two kids as a single mom at a time when that was uncommon and let’s face it, unpopular. And yet, she always had herself together. She wore the nicest clothes and spoke eloquently. The idea of her not knowing me and seeing her confused like that made me to afraid to visit. It is one of the biggest regrets of my life. Because when you’re young you never think you’re are going to lose someone close to you. No matter how old they get or how sick they become, you believe they will live forever. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t regret not visiting her. Especially thinking about how she was always there for me whenever I needed her. I feel like I failed her. Knowing she was all alone. I hope she forgives me. I sent her a letter once but never received a response. That was not enough. I should have done more. When I went to gather her belongings from the nursing home, I found a letter that she had written while she was there. It was to her long dead sister begging for her to come and save her.   It broke my heart to know how sad and hurt she was. One day, I am going to tell Autumn this story and hope that she learns from it. I want to teach her to not let her fears prevent her from being there for someone close to you when they needs you. Even if it is scary. I also will encourage her to ask her grandparents questions and learn from them. To take what they share with her and keep it close to her heart because one day they will be gone, and all you will have are those memories, or shortbread recipes, to go back to. 

After Grandma B died, I made a promise to myself that I would never make the same mistake again. When my Grandma T got sick years later, I made sure to visit. Even though it was extremely hard to see her ill and begging for help I know it was important that I was there for her, for my grandpa, my dad and myself. Grandma and Grandpa T were my example of love. Their love was obvious and they showed it to each other every day. Grandma T was the most gentle, kind and loving person I have ever known. She put everyone else first and I hope I have become even half the woman she was. My Grandpa always made us laugh. He was an unapologetic flirt with any lady he saw out and about always making my grandma roll her eyes at him. He always seemed so strong. Even when he reached his 90s, he was still standing on chairs and changing lightbulbs. I thought he would live forever. He was 97 when he passed and even though I shouldn’t have been, I was still shocked. My sister Ashley, my cousins and I would go spend a week at their house each summer. They would take us to the town pool, library, mall, Play Land (a theme park in Rye, New York), New York City and throughout my grandpa made sure we had plenty to eat. Asking at each meal if we were ready for thirds (which explains where Ashley and my eating habits come from). I treasure these memories. I can’t wait to tell Autumn all about her wonderful great grandparents. And I will make sure she spends time with her grandparents and makes memories with them so she can carry those with her always. 

When I began writing this blog, I thought the whole first one would encompass what I want to teach Autumn and the things I wish someone had taught me. But I discovered quickly that I apparently have a lot to say (if you know me then you know this is not surprising). Instead, I will split the blog into different lessons. I hope it all comes together. Some of the blogs will be darker than others but I think all of it is important for Autumn to know. I want to give her an opportunity to learn the hard life lessons I was never taught. Thank you for going on this ride with me and bearing with me as I get a hang of this. I would love to hear from you! Please comment or leave your own stories. Thank you for reading. Love you all.

“A grandparent is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend.”

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2 Replies to “Grandparents”

  1. Aw, that was lovely, Megan! I absolutely understand your reluctance to visit your grandmother and the guilt that came from it. She forgives you! My grandmother on my mom’s side had dementia at the end and I’m still tortured by the memories of visiting her in the home. People trying to grab your sleeve in the hall, begging you to help them. My grandmother simply was not the same person she once had been and it hurt SO much to witness. We both have learned important lessons from our past, but we also have to be gentle with ourselves. We were young and weren’t yet equipped to handle such things. I love you and look forward to reading more!

    1. Thank you Brian. Dementia is one of those diseases that doesn’t get talked about much but impacts so many. The mind is such a fascinating thing that I wish we understood more. Thank you so much for sharing your story. And you are so right that it is a lesson learned and we have to cut ourselves some slack. I hope you continue to enjoy the blog. I look forward to more comments.

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