My Grandmother's Birthday


Today is my grandmother’s birthday.  She is 98 years old.  I realized last night that her birthday is 04/04 and Autumn’s birthday is 08/08.  I love little connections like that.

I wanted so much for my grandmother to meet her first great-granddaughter.  I thought of her when Nelle died, and again when Iris died.  Her memory has deteriorated a lot in the past year, but she met Autumn in September when she was barely three weeks old.  My grandmother held her with the experience of a woman who has held many babies, like it was yesterday, and peered into her tiny face.  At the end of the visit, she said “I’m so happy you had a girl.  You should have another one.  That’s what I had – two boys, two girls.  It’s nice.”  I smiled, and inside my head I thought “Actually, I have two boys and three girls.”  My grandmother knew that we lost the other two, but I was sure she did not remember anymore.

My grandmother was a weaver.  When I would visit her in Milwaukee, she always had a project on an enormous loom that she had in her home.  Later, when she and my father moved to an apartment complex, the loom was donated to the center and my grandma continued to weave.  She even taught me to weave, a small, dainty bookmark on a tiny loom.  When Theo was born, we received a beautiful woven blanket in baby blue, a gift for the first great-grandchild in the family.

Upon Autumn’s arrival, my aunt gave me a blanket woven in the softest pink.  My grandmother made it years ago, a gift for the first great-granddaughter in the family, unknown at the time who that would be.  Moving past the stage of infant blankets in the house, I struggled with putting the pink blanket into Autumn’s memory box.  The blue blanket is in Theo’s box, but did the pink blanket really belong to Autumn?  Or did it belong to Nelle?  I have a box for Nelle and Iris, a box that matches those I have for my living children.  Gifts and other mementos have been lovingly tucked into the box.

After thinking and staring at the boxes, I placed the pink blanket in Nelle and Iris’s box.  It belonged to Nelle; Autumn was simply borrowing it.  I know that my grandma’s memory is now so delicate that she will likely not remember the pink blanket, or the blue one before it, but I think she would love knowing that it was indeed a gift for her first great-granddaughter.