Gwendie is well into her 7th or 8thlife, this one in Asheville, NC as a late-to-the-pen writer. In past lives she has been a daughter, a wife, a mother, a Professional Woman. Now she is exploring the vast universes of past and present into which she delves for stories.
I’m an old grandmother. Well, I’m not so very old, just 68 years young, as my cancer doctor says, but old to be just now having a grandchild. Actually that’s not even quite true. I have three step-grandchildren from a previous marriage, but I’ve seldom seen them, and they don’t really consider me their grandmother.
But this one, this precious little angel girl who was born last Thanksgiving Day to my son Jonathan and his beloved Irena (no, they’re not married—does anyone do that anymore?), is one of the great gifts of my life.
You see, three short years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer (the incurable kind). At that time, my son was adrift in life—a college graduate with no permanent job, no “significant other,” no idea what he should do with his life. He lived with me for the first year after the diagnosis, being there for me during the mastectomy and the first harsh chemo. But as I grew stronger, so did he, and he left to find his way in life, several states away. I was glad for him. Even gladder when he found a job, an apartment, and some months later, a ladyfriend. But when they got pregnant and were thrilled at the prospect of a baby, I was more than glad for them. And then, when adorable Daisy was born, I was so happy for them and so grateful for me.
Grateful because I’ve been given this time, even with cancer, or maybe especially with cancer, to see my own progeny grow and mature and begin to experience the wondrous gifts of life—love of a spouse or partner and love of a child. And such a child—the most beautiful, sweet precious little creature on earth—something most grandmothers say, but in my case, it’s true. (Smile.)
Although I would love to be here to see little Daisy birth her own little daughter, my age and my health give me next-to-no chance of that. But for me, the very fact that she exists, that she’s so loved by her parents and her grandparents and the rest of her family, gives me great satisfaction and a belief that “my work here is done.” The continuation of the species, of MY family, of my genes, has been accomplished. It seems to tidy up the package of my life nicely.
As it does for mothers and grandmothers everywhere, my heart melts when I see Daisy, whether in person or in photos, or on Skype video, smiling and bubbling and looking right at me. At the same time, my spine stiffens and my resolve hardens to continue to contest this chronic cancer as long as I can. For Daisy, but mostly for me. It’s the Grandmother Treatment for cancer. And so far, it’s working.