Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Dear Jules,
One of the most special things in the world is the relationship between a grandchild and a grandparent.  I luckily had very special, very different relationships with my mother's mom, with whom I went to church, and my mother's dad, with whom I played violin, listened to stories, etc.  See Dedi.  You are lucky in that you have special relationships with Papa, Nagyi, and the woman I'm writing about today, Grammy.

When I first met your Grammy, I thought of her as more of a friend than a mom.  She has such an adventuresome spirit, is always up for an outing, and makes for an excellent shopping partner!  One of the things I reallly see in both of you is your zest for life...sometimes despite the odds.  When you go to the ocean, you get right in the water with no fear, and this is what your Grammy does.  Even if it's difficult, she wades right in and experiences life fully.  She's persistent and won't take "no" for an answer, which is something I envy but, thankfully, something you share with her.  In fact, Diane, your speech therapist, said that your spirit and your "willfulness" would take you far in life, and I can already see that.

Just a few years ago, I was on the phone with Grammy who, in her early fifties, wanted to go back to school to study photography at the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).  She had talked to someone who told her she should stay at home with her husband, your Papa, and she was having doubts.  I told her that she needed to do this...I like to think that this conversation, along with the support of your Papa and her own determination, spurred her on in taking that leap--to continue our metaphor--into that water.

And the water was chilly and deep; she spent many many nights awake working on homework, had to have her work critiqued by eighteen-year-olds (who, let me tell you, are not kind critics!), and, most difficult, she lived almost four hours away from Papa.  It was not an easy time, but she did it.  She graduated Summa Cum Laude and is now a bona fide photographer and, recently, a painter.

I like to tell this story to my students because it would have been easy for her to back down.  At this point, she did not need the money, she had a house, and she could have just done photography as a hobbyist, but this was her dream, and she followed it.  She did not take "no" for an answer.

Not only is Grammy persistent, but she's one of those people who manages to pull this off and still have lots of friends because she has such a big heart.  She has been nothing but accepting of both me and your aunt Maggie, and this woman would go to the ends of the world for her boys.  She loves you so very much, and you have been developing a very special relationship.  Last week, she came and spent about three days with you; you went to the beach, to a few therapies, but mostly just enjoyed each other's company.  Here are some "selfies" that you and Grammy took:

Just seeing how happy you both are makes my heart smile, and I would like you to have these pictures and treasure them as you both grow older (and possibly less silly...though I doubt it).

On a personal note, it meant a lot to me that Grammy took time not only for you, but also to do something special with me.  Because I'm busy with you and with work, I don't often have time to do "girl things," and it's really easy to forget to do things for myself.  Grammy came with me to a studio called Wine and Design, where we had a few glasses of wine and then proceeded to copy one of their paintings...from scratch!  I have really no sense of spacial orientation and was terrified at the thought, but Grammy helped me every step of the way.  And we both painted sea paintings to go in your room:

I know they won't be in your room forever, but maybe you have these in storage and can remember this story.  I really did not like my painting until Granny told me the problem was that I had too many colors.  I fixed it and tried to "unify" it, and I think it turned out much better.  She didn't do it for me--it's definitely my own painting--but her advice helped.

This is, I think, the key to good parenting: to help your children but not do things for them. I can already tell that it's going to be so hard; when you're having trouble, I just want to make life easier, to do it for you.  But this painting makes me proud because I did it myself, and because I accepted advice (also not the easiest thing for me).  And so your Granny isn't only adventuresome and kind, but she is an excellent parent and grandmother.  You have special, very different relationships with all of your grandparents, and I think the magic is that you learn different things from each one.  

Nonetheless, every time you jump fearlessly in the water or insist on doing things by yourself, I think of this woman, her invaluable influence, and her precious love for you.

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