Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Today would’ve been my mother’s 76th birthday. If she were alive, I would call her and apologize for not sending a gift in time. I was always chronically late sending her gifts, because I suffered from “gift anxiety” brought on by my inability to compete with Mom’s incomparable talent for gift giving. She had a gift (for gift giving)—the ability to pick out just the right thing, the sensitivity to know what would make the recipient most happy, the uncanny knack for surprise. But I didn’t inherit that gene, so I usually succumbed to defeat, sending belated flowers or picking out some item that she probably didn’t need and never used.

Yet, I realize now that, in spite of my gift-giving inadequacies, I managed to give my mom one present that endlessly delighted her: grandchildren. I am the only fertile one amongst her progeny, my sister being a Poor Clare nun and my brother being a happily married father of multiple cats. Thus, Nathaniel and Eliana received her undivided grandparental love.

My mom took every opportunity she could to be with her grandchildren, flying to Abilene even though she was terrified of airplanes. When we went to Albuquerque to visit, she cooked for weeks ahead of time filling her freezer full of all sorts of goodies for the kids—cookies, orange rolls, baked spaghetti, apple pie. When we arrived in the driveway, she came bursting out the front door, covering the kids with kisses and hugs. She kept a treasure trove of surprises for them, so that each day of our visit they were presented with a new game, or bubbles, or books, or crayons. Saying goodbye was always so difficult—I could see the joy ebb in her eyes as visibly as a cloud covering the light of the sun.

Tragically, cancer robbed my mom of her favorite gift. It cruelly cut short the time she had with her only grandchildren. She didn’t live to see Nathaniel finally get his two front teeth (lost prematurely in a driveway toy car accident). She never heard him play in a piano recital or see him become one of the top ten readers at his school. She missed hearing about Eliana’s first day in Kindergarten, and she’ll never know that her granddaughter can ride a horse, play soccer, and sing beautifully. I grieve more over this than anything else: that my mom will not see her grandchildren grow up.

Happy birthday, sweet Grammy Mary Kay. We miss you.


Bezner said...

That was a fantastic post. Nothing like grandparents.


Kelly said...

Very powerful, my wife. This needs to work into something you publish.