Granny AGMA’s confession

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Dearest B-Man,

Hallelujah!

I finally get it! I get the whole grandparent thing!

Granny AGMA’s slow. Up until now, I was clueless.

Three of my grandparents had already passed by the time I was born. My sole grandparent – my father’s mother – was in her 70‘s, wracked with horrible rheumatoid arthritis and severe osteoporosis. In my memory, she looked like she was ancient.

Today, 75 is the new 55. But not back in the day.

She died when I was 6.

You dada and uncle really didn’t have grandparents either. Well they did. But they didn’t.

My father, your great grandfather, remarried a lovely woman named Louise after he divorced your great grandmother. Louise never had any children of her own, but she grew to love me as a daughter after I came to live with them in 1965.

Louise loved your dad and uncle too, but she wasn’t very maternal. She seemed a bit frightened of children. Besides, she was all about trying to keep my father happy. Not an easy task.

Great granddad was a narcissist. Like The Donald.

My dad “loved” your dada and uncle, but it was in his own, narcissistic way. Meaning that, he would never spend any time on them or with them if he had anything better to do. Which always seemed to be the case.

His great loss

I suspect my own mother would have been a superb grandma had she lived to meet her grandchildren…

Your grandpa’s (“Bumpa” as you call him!) parents had no clue how to parent or raise emotionally, mentally or spiritually healthy children. There was abuse on multiple levels. Bumpa managed to pull his life together and do quite well, but still bears the emotional scars. His siblings weren’t as fortunate.

When Bumpa and I realized his parents weren’t interested in being a part of your daddy and uncle’s life, we were relieved. They saw them once a year. Perfect.

They’re all gone now other than Bumpa’s mother, your great grandmother. Who’s never met you. And she hasn’t shown any interest in seeing you although we’ve offered to fly her to Chicago to visit.

Her great loss. And terribly sad.

When I found out 2+ years ago that I was going to be a grandma, I did all the right things. I cried for joy. I organized a baby shower for your mom. We traveled to Chicago to welcome you to the world.

But I still didn’t “get” the grandma thing.

Friends had been posting on Facebook for years how wonderful it was to be a grandparent; that it was the best thing ever.

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Blah, bIah, blah…

I thought they were possibly exaggerating a little bit. Or a lot.

Then, you arrived. You were very cute, adorable and cuddly. But I wasn’t sure of the “best thing ever” part.

And your folks, being first time parents, went a little crazy after you were born. There were lots of rules around seeing you. Those were kind of tense times and led to some family discord.

That was no fun.

And I was still trying to riddle out what was so fabulous about being a grandparent other than cuddling said cute, adorable baby.

Fast forward to last April when we found out you were going to be a big brother. Very exciting but…

Now I really needed to find a Remedial Grand Parenting class. I didn’t know how to do this supposedly epic grandma thing with you. Now there was going to be another baby.

Then you started walking. And talking – sort of. And you could understand what we were saying. And slowly, very slowly, we started falling under your spell.

A glimmer of understanding of all those goofy grandparent Facebook memes appeared.

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You totally sealed the deal last week.

I went to Chicago to help your mama out for a few days. Your sister’s fine, but your mom’s body isn’t taking to kindly to this pregnancy. She’s really, really tired.

And you aren’t. You’re a very active boy who has many interests.

Very.Active.

So I came to hang out with you so your mama could chill a bit before all hell breaks loose with a newborn in the house.

And you totally and completely enchanted me… So much so that I ignored my WordPress friends and my blog last week. WTF?

But I couldn’t take time out from our walks. It would take 20 minutes just to go to the end of the street. So many interesting things to pick up and study – dirt, leaves, rocks. I did discourage close examination of the dog dodo…

And I couldn’t take time out of our mornings together looking out the window for trucks and airplanes. Or playing with your toy trucks and Sammy.

And I absolutely couldn’t take time out of our afternoon visits to the park. You needed pushing on the swing and catching at the end of the slide. And chasing as you joyfully ran headlong into your next adventure.

So I get it now.

My job…no, my delight…is being able to slow down with you to help you discover the world. To talk with you about bugs and rocks and trees. To hang with you as you experience the joy of being alive. And to let you know how much you are loved. By me, your bumpa, your dada & mama, your uncle. And God.

Your mama and dada are busy and tired and stressed. I was there once so I totally get it. Lots of times they just don’t have the time or energy to go on 4 walks a day with you. And things are going to get crazy busy when your sister arrives in a few weeks.

But between all 4 of your grandparents – your mama’s parents adore you as well – you’ll still get plenty of time to discover the world. You lucky young man!

Yeah…I get it now.

I’ll love you forever; I’ll like you for always,

Granny AGMA

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I pledge allegiance to the Conch Republic

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My husband and I just spent a long weekend in Margaritaville.  Yippee.  He was a Key West virgin – this was his first visit.  This was my third visit, but I don’t think the first two really counts.

I was 16 and traveling with my parents on my first visit back in the late 60’s.  Do I have to explain any more?  A visit to any place even remotely fun is automatically negated when you travel with your parental units.  Especially mine.  Especially in the late 60’s.

My dad & step-mother were 41 years older than me.  So it was worse than traveling with your parents.  It was like traveling with your grandparents.  And grandparents were way different in the 1960’s than they are now.

Lots of grandparents are cool now.  I’m a grandma and I’m cool.  It’s a Baby Boomer thing…  We’re terrified of getting old so we act cool.  Goldie Hawn is 69 and the grandmother of five.  Her grandkids call her Glamma.  I bet she’s loads of fun to travel with!

Not so grandparents in the 1960’s.  Or grandparent-aged people.  Or maybe it was just my parents.

First of all, we drove from Pittsburgh down to Key West.  All the way…  Just my parents and I with the car radio on grandparent-type music.  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, my dad wore mid-calf high socks with his sandals.  Everyday.   Bedtime was 10 PM and we ALL had to go to bed.  Then we ALL got back up at dawn.  And after breakfast every morning, we’d go back to the motel room and just sit for 30 minutes doing nothing so my dad could spend his daily time in the “library”.   To a 16 year old, it was sheer misery.

I know that Key West was very different back in the late 60’s but the trauma of the trip has pretty well erased my memory.  But  I do remember a very quaint town, small 1 1/2 lane roads and walking in the sand beside the road.  No sidewalks.  I’m sure there were fun things to do there back then, but that would have been way too self-indulgent for us.  Our house was where fun came to die so why should it be any different on vacation?

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that the first visit doesn’t count.

My second visit was for about five hours six years ago.  I was on a cruise with a friend and Key West was one of the stops.  It was fun and we did as much as we could do in five hours.  Then we sailed away.  So the second visit really didn’t count either.

Which brings us up to this past weekend…  We had a great time watching the sunsets, visiting the Hemingway House & lighthouse, eating seafood & key lime pie, and indulging in some adult beverages.  Probably more adult beverages than we should have.

And surprise, surprise – we found out that Key West seceded from the U.S.  For ten minutes.  In 1982.  The Conch Republic.   Too long to explain but you can read about the bravery of the Key West “troops” here.  Crazy, fun stuff.  I like that spirit.

Fast forward to 2015.  Yeah – we had fun in Key West, but it wasn’t the most amazing time ever.  Not even close.  I think things have changed a lot since Jimmy Buffet lived there.  Since Key West seceded.  Accommodations were incredibly expensive with little value for the $$.  At least where we stayed.  There was concrete everywhere.  And bikes and scooters and little electric cars with bad drivers.  Drinks were cheap if you did happy hour, but everything else was pricey.  Very pricey.

Maybe we waited a bit too late in our lives to go.  Getting so drunk every night that you puke has kind of lost much of it’s wonder & charm for us.  We liked watching the sunset in the state park where it was quiet, sandy and green rather than on all concrete Mallory Square.  ADHD sunset there with crowds of tourists, loud musicians competing with each other, and tired street performers all vying for tips.

Maybe we’ve become “where fun comes to die” people.  Nah – we’re too cool for that…

But I’m glad I finally got to really visit Key West.  I’m sure it was amazing in the 70’s and 80’s.  It’s just become a victim of it’s own success as happens so often with charming, quirky places.  They’ve lost much of their authenticity.  But you could see tiny glimpses of what Key West used to be like, and that was at once wonderful and sad.

Long live the spirit of the Conch Republic wherever you are!