‘There’s No-one Quite Like Grandma’
There is an episode of the wonderful ‘Miranda’ where she and her friend Stevie are trying to appear less middle-aged in order to impress a younger friend. A quick scan of the flat and Miranda is ordered to ‘Hide your Werther’s Originals, your knitting and your boxed set of Midsomer Murders’. In mid-laugh, I realised that I subscribe to two of the three defining sure-fire characteristics of old fogeydom – and the only reason I don’t eat Werther’s Original is a terror of inhaling one and choking on it! Ageing, you see, is the thing that we all apparently run from. So you may well be upholstered with underwear bearing the tensile strength of a trampoline and hide your crow’s feet under dark glasses but hey, from a distance you may have knocked ten years off your age. And as long as you don’t resemble a mummy or Donatella Versace I applaud you.
I’m thinking along these lines as my tiny new granddaughter Elizabeth, only a week old, is the harbinger of the next generation of our family. I thought I’d feel older as people now refer to me as Granny as though that is my first name. I can still remember my own grandmother, probably in her fifties when I was born. She looked like a gran. She always wore a pinny that had a complicated arrangement of straps to do it up. She wore a proper hat even if she didn’t actually have a coat on, even indoors sometimes, and I can count on one hand the times I saw her in shoes and not slippers. But actually it’s not age I’m aware of but the dynamic of family life as we grow into a clan. That makes me matriarch. From Sarah (once Sarai) to Mother Teresa we are an unbroken line of strong women.
I quite like the idea of moving into the position of matriarch. It suggests wisdom with the years, a mellowing of the temperament, a graciousness if you will. The one they will come to for advice, fun and boiled sweets. Provided of course your role model is say the Queen rather than Joan Crawford.
I thought of the power families; the Ewings, the Carringtons, the Colbys, and decided you could combine the matriarchal qualities; the gentleness and wisdom of Miss Ellie, the empathy and softness of Crystal and the fierce passions of Alexis (I know the fierce passions were largely directed at just getting her own way but of course I’ll be re-channelling mine into family).
The Bible doesn’t have particular instructions for grandmothers but in Titus we find Paul referring to the role of older women with some age advice. ‘To train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no-one will malign the word of God’. That I’m entrusted with that kind of task is a huge privilege and in a way I feel I’ve come of age in a good way. It’s only a number after all and I’ve always been terrible with numbers!
Love in Jesus