When I am a grandmother, I shall wear my voluminous blue shawl around the house in a nod to my Gran status. But, I will combine it with chunky jewelry, French perfume and red lipstick in a nod to my ever-young soul.
My granddaughter (I feel in my bones I will have one) will see my weathered hands, taking in the gravitas of my years. I will bake cookies and make tea as good Nanas do, but I hope she sees beyond this to the woman inside, the never-changing one whose fire is not extinguished by her aging body. The one not so very different from her except for the wisdom in my years.
I wonder if she will guess at who that woman is? Will she ask about my adventures?
Will she know of the broken hearts? Will she see that I understand what it is like to break someone’s heart because they love you as much as you love another? And what it is like to have that other love yet another, breaking yours in return? Will she see that I have not always been wise in life and the pursuit of love? That my foolish choices provided me with some of the lines etched into my face?
Will she guess at an evening in a charming Southern town with a gallant Southern gentleman? In my black dress, heels off, sitting in a courtyard under the stars, sipping champagne and feeling that warm sensation (is it love or just champagne bubbles) down to my toes? He in his suit, smiling from ear to ear, toasting with me under the stars? Will she wonder at carriage rides and lemonade on the porch and coffee brought to me in bed with a morning kiss?
Will she ever know that men wooed her old gran with picnics under towering oaks on hot summer days? That her tiny matriarch made Texas charmers want to buy picnic baskets, pack them and tell her their life story while lying in the shade on an old farm’s grassy field? Would she wonder if the clink of the wine glasses, the tang of the cheese, the whinnying of the horses combined to mesmerize me? (Perhaps more so than the charmer himself . . . )
Would it surprise her to know that I still remember deep kisses on rooftops as the first snow fell on the cityscape, sleepless nights filled with whispered dreams and strong arms around me, dancing until dawn like a whirling dervish? That I knew, for some time, the blessed comfort of waking up next to the man I thought I would spend my entire life with? That I knew his shape, as he did mine, like the back of my own hand? That the scent of him was like a warm blanket on a cold night?
What need will she have of my memories, really? In the end, she will make her own. I wish her the sweetest combination of fire and sensibility with which to make them. Perhaps slightly more of the former than the latter. But I will be wise and wizened enough by then to know that she cannot learn on me, nor can she benefit from my mistakes.
She may see only the extra padding or bony bits on this old gran, thinking I was always so. A cookie baker, tea maker, grandchild spoiler. Entirely sensible and solid.
But you and I? We know she would be wrong.
Sshhhh. The secret is mine to tell.