Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dear Mae: A Letter To My Granddaughter

You are not even here, Little One, and already everybody is so excited to meet you.  It will be a long time before you understand how special that is - to fall in love with someone you have yet to see or hold.

You have a lot of years of growing to do, but far into the future (when you are a teenager and God forbid not sooner) you will one day fall in love with a boy.  You should know, Mae, that this will  sicken your parents.  Every time they observe him looking at you with his lusty, hormonal, teenage boyness and a starter mustache, your Mom and Dad will throw up a little in their mouth and think about gouging this boy's eyes out.  No kidding, Mae, your normally laid back parents will scare themselves with the thoughts that consume them about this new friend of yours.  One night before drifting off to sleep your mother will casually say to your father, "And that kid's stupid, little mustache?  He looks like a porn star." Then she will fall asleep dreaming of a boy in your life like Justin Timberlake - the kind of guy who brings his mother to the Grammys.  Meanwhile, your father will gingerly walk down the stairs, turn on the t.v (the volume barely a whisper) and binge-watch How To Get Away With Murder with a notepad and pen beside him.  When your grandfather, who roofed his way through graduate school with some characters who knew a thing or two about the Big House, meets this boy he will pull your father aside and say, "I still know people. You just say the word."

You will enlist your grandma's help in turning the family tide in your favor and, oh honey, she will try to be on your side.  After all, she still vividly remembers that dating stint of your mother's with the Republican that nearly did her in.  But whenever this boy's name comes up her chest pounds and her throat tightens like a vise and so she will do what she always does in these situations.  She will google her symptoms.  She can no longer help you, Mae.  Dr. Google has diagnosed your grandma with multiple illnesses - all leaning heavily on the terminally ill side.  Now she needs to quickly assemble a team of experts at MAYO Clinic while there's still a prayer of being cured.  And if that's not possible, (due to a perfectly legal scam called the deductible) she will need to go to Target one more time for ibuprofen, toilet paper, throw pillows, and the perfect red lipstick to wear to her final resting place - which according to the terms of her most recent will happens to be the clearance section of Target.

One day your Starter Mustache Boy will make a grave mistake.  He will walk into your parent's house, cock his ball-capped head, look at your Dad and say, "Dude, what's happening?" "Dude" will hang as heavy in the air as humidity in July. You will look at your dad with his clenched jaw and pulsing neck veins and, Mae, even you will know that you have been in love with a moron, and, sweet girl, that's okay.  We've all been there.  Your grandma once went out with a nice boy from church that she had been crazy about since the 6th grade.  "You do know his father is a lawyer," said her mother, who daily prayed for the souls of the dearly departed and her daughter's wretched dating life.  It turns out that the son-of-a-lawyer thought that taking your grandma along to buy drugs was the perfect getting-to-know-you ice breaker.  There's all kinds out there, honey, but you come from a long line of sensible women.  We might go in head-over-heels but we know when to cut and run and you will too.

Your dating life from high school, college and beyond will be up, down, and around before you recognize the right one for you.  He will not be perfect but he will feel like home to you and you will not want this man who makes you laugh, cheers you up and on, and whose eyes twinkle with love for you and the life you are making together, to slip away.  Maybe the two of you will decide that the home you've built needs a baby in it as well. 

And when that happens, when you stand in the bathroom holding that pregnancy test in your shaking hands staring at the plus sign, you will finally know what it was like for your own mom - to be so in love with someone she has yet to see or hold.  That, dear Mae, is called hope and from that moment on it will be tangled up in everything you know for the rest of your life.


  1. This, Kathleen, is everything. Love.

  2. "Starter mustache." Oh, to be young again. So perfect.

  3. "Starter mustache." Oh, to be young again. So perfect.

  4. This is proof that you are ready to be a grandmother.