M (my husband) snowboards every chance he can get. He has had a season pass to our local ski mountain ever since he was 16 when he became old enough to get a job to make the money to buy one. He taught me how to snowboard when we started dating. We had a lot of arguments up on the mountain during my first years of learning. His style of teaching and my slow learning of this skill did not always coincide. But now I love this activity and it makes me happy that we can spend time together doing it.
On a recent day when M was snowboarding with his friends, the conversation turned to the news that M’s friend is expecting his first child, a daughter in fact. M told me how congratulations were passed around and the friend started to talk about how he wished he was having a son. M told him not to say that and to be happy to be able to have a daughter. His friend promptly agreed that M was right, and that was all that was said on the subject. Now, this might not seem like a very interesting conversation to most people. M doesn’t really tell me a lot of what is said between him and his friends concerning children. The few conversations he does tell me about usually leave me thinking about things I would normally pass off if someone else were to tell me the same thing. This conversation made me think of my father’s mother, of my relationship with her, and of a conversation we had a long time ago.
I consider myself very lucky to have the kind of relationship that I did with my grandma. It was a story book relationship in that it was the very best kind. I grew up next to her. The only things between the houses were our field and my dad’s shop. When I was really young and my grandma still worked, I knew that when my favorite TV show was over in the late afternoon my grandma would be home from work. I visited my grandma almost every day. After the show was over (I was too young to tell time and to be in school) I would run through the field, past my dad’s shop, and over to my grandma’s house. She always welcomed me into her home. We would spend the afternoon doing a few chores, working in the garden, and making dinner. When my grandpa came home for dinner she would send me back to my house to have my own dinner. I cherish that I was able to spend these hours with my Grandma. We would talk and tell stories while I hung out with her at her house. My grandma paid for the first few years of my older sister’s and my ballet classes, because my parents couldn’t afford to pay for them. My grandma was our biggest fan. She came to many practices and all my dance performances and recitals all the way through high school. It wasn’t only dance functions. She came to everything to watch her granddaughters. We could always count on Grandma being there.
OK, my ramblings have a point. I just have so many fond memories of her that they are all finding their way out. I remember one afternoon sitting on her back porch with her while I was still young. I asked her why she only had sons. She had 4 sons in fact, my father being the youngest. She looked at me with loving eyes and told me her story which I have never forgotten. She did have a daughter. She gave birth to a daughter before my father was born. She was stillborn. Grandma expressed her grief as best she could to me, since I was so young. I remember her eyes filling with tears as she told me about the daughter she didn’t get to raise and how she was always sad that she didn’t get to raise this girl. Then she gave me a bright smile and told me how lucky she was. How lucky she was to have 4 wonderful sons that gave her 4 daughters when they married and she loved them very much. She told me how she became even luckier and had granddaughters, and how happy we made her life. She didn’t get to raise her daughter, but she had so many daughters in her life.
This left an impression on me since I was a young girl. I remember when I was younger and people would ask me if I would want a daughter or a son. I truly didn’t care. I would remember my grandma and think that if I wasn’t able to have a boy or a girl, I would be able to share in the lives of others. I did forget about this lesson as M and I made the decision to quit trying to have our own child. I was angry, jealous, and miserable. As I am finding happiness in my life again after struggling with infertility I am becoming able to feel the joy in this story from my grandma again. I have many nieces and nephews. I have friends that have children that I love dearly, and I am becoming able to see their faces in a new light and joy. I know I will never be their mother, but I am grateful for this message my grandma shared with me, that I can share in part of their lives. I only wish she was still here to thank her and have one more conversation.