The secret is mine to tell

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 someoneโ€™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 farmโ€™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.

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38 Comments Add yours

  1. Aunt Beulah says:

    Blessings on you for writing this, Kay, and speaking for all of us who want to be more than the older woman in the room who, while nice and well preserved, surely doesn’t relate to the animated conversations of the young. Thankfully my loved ones of the next generations still seem to find value in me, and I enjoy their gentle teasing when I’m not quite with the current topic.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you exclamation mark I celebrated the holiday recently with a good friend and her family. Her grandmother did not have much to say at the table. But, when I got the chance to speak to her alone after dinner in the living room, she was fascinating. I think all it takes is a flip in the way we view our aged. I sure hope that flip comes before I am one of them:).

  2. Loved this post so much.

    I live in an apt bldg full of people in their 70s, 80s, 90s…I turn 60 (holyhsit) on June 6. It’s been interesting to get to know some of the older women here and hear some of their stories — one, on our floor, was a Pan Am stewardess. Another was (!) a nightclub singer. We all have great stories to tell.

    I have no kids, so will have no grandkids — but my friends in their 20s and 30s enjoy my stories still.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Maybe that is your next book-a book of your adventures :-). I bet you’d have some interesting stories.

  3. reocochran says:

    You will be an amazing example, K! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am blessed with seven grandies, K. My son rescued a divorced Mom of two, added 3 more. My oldest daughter has 2 boys. We take flashlights and go on hikes, we cross creeks with old wading shoes, we swing together and chase each other. The girls love my porcelain collectibles, dress ups, makeup and boys, checkers, dinosaurs and matchbox cars.
    You cook and bake which are very wonderful skills to share! Your stories will be passed down, in your own memoir or in a barely disguised novel about a warm, loving and adventurous Nana. My name they gave me is also Nana. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I love that you’re a Nana. Takes some magic:). Thank you for the kind encouragement!

      1. reocochran says:

        You will be a fantastic Nana, Kristine. ๐Ÿ™‚ It is a magical character to become.

  4. Ninasusan says:

    I love this post!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I loved writing it:).

  5. RuthsArc says:

    Beautiful words, Kristine. We each have our own life journey, but hopefully we can share some of our joys with younger generations.

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree! Binds us together in the most delightful way:). Thank you for the kind words.

  6. Funny I just read the blog post that Roy has just written on the subject (that he mentions above) and then straight to this one. I love the mysteries behind people, the lives they might have led. And if your grand-daughter doesn’t guess, she’ll have a treasure trove of your writings to fill her with wonder.

    1. candidkay says:

      I loved that Roy still had that wondering:). We should never lose it.

  7. Made me cry again. Beautiful and funny, as I suspect you already are. Thank you for this one.

    1. candidkay says:

      Aw, touched my heart. Both with the emotion and the just be words.

  8. Roy McCarthy says:

    Beautifully written Kristine, a classic. My most recent blog was, though more minimalist, on this very subject. Our youngsters tend to see their elders as one-dimensional ‘old people’, Many would be generally interested in knowing more about their lives, and would look upon the oldies in a much different light. Hats off to you for this brilliant post.

    1. candidkay says:

      Just read it, Roy. Poetic! A lovely think on a regular chance encounter (yes, I know that’s a contradiction in terms:)). And thank you for the kind words. I wish I had known more of my mother and my Nana, not just as archetypes, but as women.

      1. Roy McCarthy says:

        Yes indeed. My Dad and his brother could have filled a book with stories, especially after a beer or two. Too late I wished I’d recorded some of it.

  9. George says:

    As a grandparent your words touched my heart. I don’t o ow of a better compliment. Great post, Kristine..:)

    1. candidkay says:

      Honored to have done so:). Thank you for the kind words.

  10. Easily one of my favorite posts, Kay. I hope you pack a picnic basket and whisper stories of your youth over spontaneous tea parties under the stars.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, thank you! So glad it resonated with you:). I love the idea of spontaneous tea parties under the stars . . .

  11. Thanks for this extra fine combination of fire and sensibility. How sweet it is.

    1. candidkay says:

      On a good day, I get it right:). Thanks for reading!

  12. Bernadette says:

    I have a granddaughter and it is through her eyes I relive the past and see the future and the experience is as lovely as your words.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I love to hear that! I remember my Nana so fondly. You’re making great memories she’ll treasure forever:).

  13. You are a brilliant writer Kristine. This moment was wistful, endearing (without being sappy), and insightful. And I’m not just saying that because I’m hoping for extra cookies.

    1. candidkay says:

      Well, you just earned them with that lovely comment๐Ÿ˜‰:). Thanks so much, Gabe!

  14. I love it…brings back many memories Kristine. But that is the secret, she will ‘feel’ the stories you tell, and eagerly trip and stumble in all those words of love that are pictured for her all around, and even the look in your eyes as you tell your stories. And in those recipes will a delightful aroma be baked…as she nibbles at each feeling to find what it means for her ๐Ÿ˜€
    Well told my friend…do I detect a little romance here and there, with a dashing man or two? ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. candidkay says:

      The dash of romance is secret ingredient in gran’s cookies:). Who knew?

  15. Your granddaughter will spend long rainy afternoons and sunny summer evenings reading the book you will publish of all your inspirational thoughts. She will know she had one very special grandma

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I like that vision! Now to bring it to fruition:).

  16. I think your granddaughter will see a beautiful grandmother, who has had many experiences over the years, which has made her wise, loving, patient and kind. A grandmother who is salt of the earth and will guide her gently on this crazy path of life! ๐Ÿ’•

    1. candidkay says:

      Salt of the earth is a high compliment to this Midwestern gal:). Thank you!

  17. Su Leslie says:

    I hope that your one-day granddaughter has the wisdom to ask the questions that will one day occur to her, while you are still able to answer them. I wish I’d done that with my grandmother!

    1. candidkay says:

      I hear you:). My mother was close-lipped about anything in her life before us kids, really. But I loved hearing my Nana’s stories. I wish you had been able to hear your grandmother’s too . . .

      1. Su Leslie says:

        I can’t believe now that I just never asked! I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, but never thought to ask about her life as a younger woman. My mum, on the other hand, is happy to talk about her life, so I’ve heard lots of cool stories from her.

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