In fact she’s the one who made sure I (and everyone else) knew I was a princess – and never missed an opportunity to tell me how cherished and precious and loved I was.When I told her I hated my curly red hair and freckles, she told me each freckle represented a kiss from an angel and my curls were where they had run their fingers through my hair as they sang me to sleep with their lullabies.
I still think of that today, 50 years later – and it makes me smile.I spent many weekends with my grandmother – and we had our little rituals – a stop at the drugstore (back in the day when they had soda fountains) for hot fudge sundae’s and then to the bookstore, where we’d spend hours browsing the aisles, and then back to her house where she made coffee with a french press, pouring us both a cup with lots of cream and taught me the fine art of sipping it slowly through a sugar cube held between my teeth.
(Uh-huh – no surprise that today, my favorite comfort food is a hot fudge sundae and my favorite places to seek sanctuary are Starbucks and Barnes & Noble.)My favorite place to play was in her closet, and nothing was off-limits. I put on her silk dresses, fur coats and embroidered velvet dressing gowns, clipped her diamond earrings on my ears, fastened her bracelets around my wrists, rouged my cheeks and put kohl around my eyes – and stayed that way for the whole weekend.
I felt beautiful. And sovereign.She never made me take it off – even when we left the house and went out in public – and when people would comment, she would say (with pride), “My granddaughter is a free spirit” smiling politely at those who dared to question my eccentricity or the appropriateness of my attire.
She was like a fierce lioness when it came to me – protecting me from the harshness of the real world – a world that was trying to fill my head with its lies of being too much or too little – not just as a child, but also into my young womanhood and my own evolving roles as wife and mother.My grandmother’s house was a fairy tale Queendom where I reigned, and there was nothing I couldn’t do or be. I was witty and smart and creative and she not only encouraged me, but also applauded me.
And loved me deeply. And never missed an opportunity to let me know that.Now I am a grandmother myself - blessed with a precious little princess of my own. And one day, when she tells me she hates the freckles that will surely grace her cheeks (like my gradmother's and my dad's, and mine and her daddy’s), I will pull her into my lap and tell her each freckle is where the angels kissed her goodnight just before singing her to sleep with their lullabies.
Along with all the other stories I will tell her - stories that leave no room for her to doubt she is one of the great loves of my life, or that she is a princess – born to one day be a queen.It’s going to be easy – because she is all that, but also because I have the best role model to emulate – in my own grandmother. There has never been a question in my mind of what kind of grandma I want to be.
I want to be to my granddaughter what my grandmother was to me.
Love. Purely and simply and gracefully and unconditionally.
Yesterday was my day to have the princess. We sat in the recliner and read books together – which is something she already loves doing. Later, I hauled out my grandmother’s french press and the little coffee cup that was mine as a child and will now be hers, telling her the story about the tradition we'll soon be sharing.
She giggled – showing off her two brand new little teeth. I added sugar cubes to my grocery list.
And then, I asked her if she knew how much her grandma loved her - and for the second time that day, she held her arms out to me.
I think she does.
But I'll still be taking every opportunity I'm given to tell her.