For nearly a year we searched for the perfect home in Del Norte County and ended up buying “Casa Progressa,” as Rick likes to call it. It’s the four-bedroom fixer-upper that’s our over-sized work in progress.
We preferred a smaller home. The three rambling guest rooms rarely get used. But last weekend I was grateful we could comfortably accommodate all my children and their significant others when they came to visit.
Recently my grandmothers have been on my mind. My father’s mother lived her entire 90-plus years in a village on the Adriatic Coast. She had two sons who each had three children.
My father had immigrated to the United States and was a widower with two children when he married my mom. Did he write a letter home — a letter that would take about two weeks to arrive — on the lined tablet he used with his Schaeffer fountain pen to announce that he and my mother were expecting?
I was my grandmother’s youngest grandchild. Unfortunately we met only once. Our relationship was challenged by the huge ocean that separated us and a language barrier. I wonder if she ever wished she’d had the opportunity to know me and watch me grow.
My maternal grandmother had four daughters with 10 grandchildren among them. I was the ninth.
I know there was some flurry of excitement about my mother’s pregnancy because she was 37 years old when I was born and had been convinced she could never conceive a child. Did my mom go over to my Nona’s house one afternoon to tell her the news in person? Did she find Nona is her outdoor kitchen, baking bread or making cookies and say, “Guess what?”
Nona adored me and we were great buddies until Alzheimer’s consumed her when I was about 10.
In 2009, the news of a pending birth arrives via cell phone and email. At least that’s how it happened to me. My son Dana called my cell phone from his cell phone. “Mom,” he said, “I have some news. You’re going to be a grandma. Check your email.”
My email revealed a picture of my daughter-in-law Holly holding a sign over her tummy that read, “Baby Thomas Lives Here.” Below was a scanned copy of her pregnancy test with a splotch of pink on it, which I assumed meant the test was positive.
The news that I am going to be a grandmother for the first time and that my twin sons will be uncles started a chain reaction of phone calls and plans to get our family together. From Portland, Salem and Grants Pass they came to “Grandma’s” to celebrate.
We realize that this is a significant event for our family and that nothing will ever be the same. There will be a high chair pushed up to the table next year, fuzzy pajamas with feet in them and Christmas Eves spent assembling toys from Santa again.
The guest rooms filled up with joy last weekend. My family sat together at our large dining room table enjoying blueberry pancake breakfasts and cracking fresh crab for dinner. Between bites we discussed baby names that included derivatives of our own names, which fell on deaf ears of the parents-to-be.
When my children were packing up their cars to leave, I could barely watch. A part of me stood in the driveway but another part separated from my body and floated after them. I wanted to stay near my new grandchild-to-be — “Bump” we called it — the now 10-week-old “bump” in Holly’s figure that will own my heart and change our lives forever.