I understand now. I know you loved them in every way you could.
You always stole my thunder. You gave them everything they wanted. You never said no when they asked for anything.
A second helping of dessert. Lollies before dinner. A few more minutes in the bath. Money for the ice cream truck.
How I struggled to show you respect and appreciation while trying to make sure you didn’t spoil my children. I thought you would turn them into “selfish brats” by giving them everything they wanted. I thought they might never learn to wait, to take turns, to share, because you granted their wishes as soon as they opened their mouths and pointed.
You ran to them as soon as they made the tiniest sound. How would they ever learn to self-soothe?
I resented you for buying the best and most expensive gifts on their birthdays and on Christmas. How could I possibly compete with you? How do you think it feels to know that the very best presents, the ones they’ll be the most excited and aglow about, are not from their parents?
And how they loved afternoons spent with you. You made their favourite things for dinner -- three different meals for three different boys. And you always had a little surprise. A present, lolly or a special treat. I didn't want them to associate you with gifts and sweets. I thought they should love you for you. I tried to tell you this, but you wouldn't listen. You continued to indulge them in every way possible.
I spent a lot of time wondering why you did all these things and how I could get you to ease up. I know grandmothers are supposed to "spoil the kids," then send them home, but you were... ridiculous.
Until you were gone.
I had to hold my boys and tell them that their grandma died. It didn't seem possible -- you were supposed to be there for all the other special moments: formals, graduations, weddings. But they lost their grandma too soon and too suddenly. They were not ready to say goodbye to you.
During those years when I wished you'd stop spoiling them, I never thought about how much you loved them. So much that you showed it in every way possible. Your cooking. The gifts. The lollies and sweets. Your presence. The way you could recount every detail of a special moment, whether it was a perfect catch in the outfield or a sweet and slightly off-key note sung at a school concert. Your grandmotherly love for them knew no bounds. Your heart poured love from every place possible -- your kitchen, your pocketbook, your words and your tireless arms.
It's pointless to dwell on regrets, but I often think about how I had it all wrong. I was so wrong in how I perceived your generosity. My kids, now in their teens, miss you dearly. And they don't miss your gifts or your money. They miss you. They miss running to greet you at the door and hugging you before you could step in. They miss looking up out into the crowd and seeing you, one of their biggest fans, smiling and enthralled to catch their eye. They miss talking to you and hearing your words of wisdom, encouragement and love.