“Mom, mom, I need a picture with GB before we leave.” We were on the porch, saying our goodbyes after a Thanksgiving weekend at my mother’s house in Wyoming. My mom, however, was executing her delay tactics, rattling on about why she named her large, wooden bear St. Hubert, protector of hunters.
“Oh, heavens, I’m still in my pajamas,” she said, as Addy squeezed in close to her and I prepared to take the picture.
I noticed the bag of fresh-baked mincemeat cookies in Addy’s hand that GB had baked for us for our road trip back home. How apropos that it was in the photo.
GB. The replacement name was given her some 25 years ago when the oldest of her seven grandchildren, little then, were confused as to why some of us called her mom and some of us–them, the little ones–called her Grandma Bev. Since then, that is what we’ve all called her, though I do believe I’ve heard the newest generation of great-grandchildren calling her GGB.
In addition to Grandma and Bev, I like to think the G and B stand for generous and beautiful. For that is what she is, to all of us. Not only generous in the typical sense, but generous with her time and energy and love. As a grandma, she has always focused on the grandchild or two that, at any given time, seemed to need a little extra attention or love. These past few months, she’s been in close contact with Addy during her freshman year of college, and also with my other daughter, Amy, who is spending her junior year of high school abroad, in France.
And though physically beautiful, for sure, GB is, more importantly, beautiful in every other sense of the word.
The day after Thanksgiving, my sister and I sifted through three large boxes of papers, personal files, and photos of my recently passed Dad. I had Addy participate in this, wanting her to understand that someday she’ll have to do this for her parents (I made a mental note to start now with the process of ridding my file cabinets of a lot of unnecessary junk) as well as to learn more–in the process of looking at photos and listening to my sister and me–about her grandparents and me and herself.
Though my parents divorced nearly 25 years ago, there were a few photos of my mother in the old albums, some that I had never seen and almost all of them new to Addy.
As we loaded up and got ready to go, with GB still standing there, waving and blowing kisses, Addy said, “Mom, you know, I’ve always just known GB as who she’s been during my lifetime. You know, since I was born, or since I can remember her. I never really thought about her life before that, about who she was and what she did all those years. Seeing those old photos really got me thinking. She’s probably been through so much.”
I didn’t want to interrupt her thoughts or what she was sharing, but I was about to pull away. “Keep talking, Ads, but turn and wave to GB.”
I lowered her window and she hollered, “I love you, Geebs.” Geebs. Recently, that’s what Addy had been calling her. I took the fresh moniker as an indication of their special connection.
“Yep,” Addy said, as she buckled up, “I think she’s probably seen a lot in her life.” She looked back out the window, back toward her grandma standing on the porch. And I heard her say, almost to herself, “Because… people like her don’t just happen.”