My grandmother took care of us kids when my parents split and my mom went back to work. She taught us to sew, to row a boat, how to catch frogs, how to paint still-lifes, how to paint a fence, to pick blackberries, make kringel, pasha, apple pie, baked pierogi, stroganoff, gingerbread cookies, and how to swear in Estonian (or at least yell commands - I never learned the swears like my sister did. Or the drinking songs). She also taught me that life is not fair, and family is the point.
I've been missing her like crazy these past few weeks. With kids sick and home from school and daycare I realized just how valuable a devoted grandmother can be. In this case, a great-grandmother! She always wanted to help out and never felt it was a burden to watch my son. My own mom - although a great person and we get a long fine - does not care much for that kind of grandma sort of thing. She still works full time, although officially retired, she doesn't cook or bake, and she doesn't have any traditions she wants to share with the family. My generation is kind of the lost-generation. We don't fit in anywhere and we are all still searching for our roots and our paths. I think its because we had parents who were changing the typical roles - working moms, divorces, distant relatives, mixed religions... all that. Everything changed for them and now we are supposed to feel free and confident to blaze our own trails. Rush confidently into the future. All that. But the truth is... we all secretly want to know what the rules are. The traditions, etc. After all, where's the fun in breaking rules - if there aren't any!