Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful, nurturing women in the world! I think we are all mothers in some way. We give birth through our creativity and our caring. We garden, feed the birds, volunteer, parent our pets. There is an intuitive sense of care-taking that just comes with being a woman. We can’t help ourselves.
I was lucky enough to grow up knowing my two grandmothers. I loved them both, and each had an influence on my life in a different way. Grandma Granich was the more traditional grandmother; she doted on me and my brother and sister, constantly feeding us, catering to our every whim. Her face lit up when she saw us coming. She’d bake apple strudel from scratch, rolling out the dough to cover the whole kitchen table. She grew figs in her front yard, and climbed the ladder to pick them herself. Her garden was the pride of the neighborhood, colorful carnations and geraniums blooming for everyone’s enjoyment. This Grandma never learned to drive. Instead she walked to the market just about every day for fresh bread and vegetables. She’s the woman who made the journey by boat from Croatia alone, at age sixteen. She’s the woman who lost her daughter to cancer, and her husband to old age. She’s the woman who lived a simple life, and gave the best hugs in the world.
My Grandma Penny was the sophisticated Grandmother. She was a working woman, married three times. She had style, and determination. Grandma Penny drove a turquoise sports car, and had a lavender bathroom. For most of her life she colored her hair a bright copper; she dressed beautifully and entertained elegantly. Grandma Penny owned a radio station in Lake Tahoe for awhile, so she got to meet celebrities and go to fancy parties. She always had something interesting to talk about! And she had various little dogs to take care of over the years, each one lucky to be so spoiled silly.
My own mother is very much her own person. She grew up in San Francisco and was a ballerina for awhile. She graduated from high school at sixteen, married at twenty and had me at age twenty-one. Divorced at thirty, she lived the life of a single, working mom until she met my step-dad. My mother is smart, she started her own financial planning business. When I moved to Los Angeles, my sister followed, and then my brother. After I had my first child, my mother couldn’t stand being so far away from all of us so she and my step-dad moved down here, too. She loved being “Nanny” to her grandkids and babysat regularly for both me and my sister. Now all of our kids are grown, and my mom has taken on a new project: “Hugs from Home.” She and her friends pack up boxes for the troops. Not just any boxes, these boxes are packed with love, and it shows. My mom has big binders filled with thank you notes, cards, and photos from men and women overseas who have gotten and appreciate these beautiful packages.
My first mother-in-law Kathy is still very much a part of my life, even though I don’t get to see her very often. She’s smart and hard-working, and besides her six almost-grown grandkids down here, she has two little granddaughters up in Sacramento.
My second mother-in-law Judith passed away a couple of years ago. I still miss her. Judith was fun and flamboyant, a retired actress and opera singer who lived the country life when she married her race-car-driver husband in Australia. Judith understood me, and loved me. I took her only son far away to the United States, but she was never anything less than thrilled that we had found each other. I’m so happy that she got to participate in our wedding.
Each of these women has been special in my life. And I think of each one today, and every Mother’s Day. Now I’m a mother, and I know my boys will have other moms in their lives who will be special to them. And for that, I am grateful.