“I already miss The Grandmas. I wish they could come here every, every day,” says Fluffy after my mom and my grandma pull out of our driveway. My grandma was born just one week after her sweety-hearty, and I think she always planned to follow him out of the world as close behind and she followed him in. Now that grandpa has been gone for a couple of years, she is finally reconciling herself to the reality that she may be here alone for a while and starting to think about how she wants to spend her final years. This trip to Virginia was huge for her.
As we parted with a tight hug and kiss and lumps in our throats as we exchanged our love, I think both of us were aware this could be the last time we see each other face to face. Even though I couldn’t make it out to see grandpa before he left us because of bedrest with the twins, it was a comfort to know that there was nothing left unsaid between us. Grandpa and Grandma both know how much I adore them, how much I admire them, and how grateful I am to have (had) them in my life.
I am especially delighted that Grandma Dorothy and Fluffy got to know each other this trip. They are both notorious extroverts gaining energy from social interaction so they were two peas in a pod. I loved to see them snuggled on the couch gassing each other up as they chatted or read together.
Over and over this weekend, I thought of something one of the people featured on Design Mom’s Living with Kids series had said she wished she’d known. Essentially she regretted focusing entirely on her own children for so many years because one day she looked up and her parents had grown old and infirm without her realizing it. She’d missed the chance to do things with them while they were still capable. I think I’m guilty of that. My mom can’t play with my babies the way she could a decade ago with my older sister’s kids. The future that I put things off to doesn’t include my mom in the same state as today. I don’t know when we’ll see them again, but we have to try. Flying with three kids is so expensive now, and next year grandma will be ninety. I don’t know how many more long flights she’s equal to. But flights aren’t getting cheaper, none of us is getting any younger, and we’re certainly not getting any fewer kids, so these things simply cannot wait.
I think we made great use of our time together. We did manage a little sight seeing. My mom wanted to see the space shuttle at the National Air & Space Museum in Chantilly.
I ditched the kids to go to an adult museum with the grandmas on Saturday. Not that kind of “adult”. The late, great Post cereal heiress bought an estate in DC to display the amazing art and artifact collection she had amassed travelling the world with her four husbands. The third husband had been ambassador to Russia, so she has an impressive collection of Russian art, faberge eggs, and imperial coronation memorabilia–and a big fat painting of a big fat Catherine the Great in the main marble hall.
Russophile that I am, I had never been there before as I don’t have the cash on hand to pay for all the things my offspring would have broken. I loved it. I am especially fond of the 25 foot dining table with stone mosaic top. I’ll take one in every color.
We also made it to the National Cathedral for evensong. In addition to very strong renditions of rather a lot of Herbert Howells, it featured a homily on learning to be satisfied instead of always wanting more. I was moved and chastened.
And then to ensure that I would always, always, always want more, we took a driving tour of the palatial estates in McLean and Great Falls. It left me carsick and as green with envy as I am after an entire Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon. Should have gone to evensong after the tour not before.
Simple, homecooked foods were a smashing success and the right choice instead of, oh, Burmese for example, which my grandmother would not have cared a whit about. I made my first potato salad. Kent who is grossed out by all things mayonaise couldn’t quite sympathize with my plight as I had to take the babies to the grocery store not once but twice for the ingredients. The first time I got distracted putting the babies to bed and left one of the bags in the car to swelter and spoil. This darned potato salad would be the death of me! But I had to make it. Potato salad is fancy party food for us. I don’t remember having it in the summer, but we definitely made potato salad for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. So imagine my delight when after I had toiled away at this recipe, they both had some potato salad as soon as they got here at 11:30pm, pronounced it marvelous, and requested to eat it for breakfast as well. As usual, the secret of the recipe is actually following it. I measured everything, and consequently, the flavors and textures were perfectly balanced.
Thank you to The Grandmas for filling our hearts with joy this weekend and always. Just look at how sad Peppers was when they had to leave. He’s all cut up about it for sure.