The rocking chair will have to wait

Did you know your great-grandmother when you were a child? I didn't.

My brother had a great-grandfather, but he had gone to meet his Maker by the time I came along.

My eldest daughter had a great-grandmother for about two years, but then she, too, departed.

When I was growing up, I'd hear reference to such creatures, and I'd try to imagine how old they must be and how infirm since my grandmother was at least 102 in my eyes.

Today, some of my best friends are great-grandparents, and they definitely don't look ancient and infirm. Even those who have four or more "great-offspring" are quite able to walk and talk at the same time.

Now I know they are youthful, interested in what goes on and even involved in politics. They baby-sit their great-grandchildren, and many of them raise those children.

They read books, keep up with the latest magazines and seem to be a step ahead of the latest styles.

They socialize, write their memories and read People Magazine, paint walls, replace washers, buy convertibles and play a mean game of tennis.

They volunteer for worthy causes and root for the Mariners or the Huskies or the Storm.

Theirs is a complete and fulfilling life that they are quite capable of living.

I knew all this two weeks ago, when I, too, joined the ranks of the great-grands. I was in San Luis Obispo, Calif., when the call came through that my great-granddaughter had been born.

I was so happy for the mother and father, and for the grandparents, who were convinced that this first baby was the greatest achievement of 2004. Proud parents; beaming grandparents.

But I was taken aback. All those stereotypes reared up. I, a great-grandparent?

But I was much too young to be a great-grandparent. I still had a life to live, places to go, things to do. I was not ready to sit in a chair, a shawl covering my legs as I knitted away and watched the world go by.

I stopped in Los Angeles on my way home and actually was able to hold this beautiful, brilliant, charming baby when she was a day old.

As I marveled at her, I was filled with a great sense of continuity, of someone that wee being a part of me - almost as if I would be there as the future unfolds.

She was so little, yet so perfect, with all necessary parts and her mother's eyes. And she was my great-granddaughter.

I felt like going out on the balcony and shouting, "Hey, world! I'm a great-grandparent!"

I love this latest family production. The rocking chair will just have to wait.

With this column, this great-grandmother is ending 15 years of living with Age-Enda.

It's a very difficult move. I have enjoyed writing the column, having a platform for my words of wisdom.

I've appreciated the freedom that the Madison Park Times has given me to write what I wanted to write, never saying some subject was out of bounds. For this and for her patience with a writer who always teetered on the brink of missing the deadline, I thank the editor, Vera Chan-Pool.

The people who told me they enjoyed reading something I wrote gave me a great lift, and the people who let me know they disagreed with me gave me much food for thought. Thank you all.

I have four projects that I am committed to finishing. I have successfully put off facing them, using the constancy of the column as an excuse.

Recently, it dawned on me that I am not immortal, and I'd best settle down and get to work before time runs out. Hence, my exit.

I give up the column reluctantly. I shall miss it and you readers. It's been fun, but duty calls.

Roberta Cole, a Madison Park resident, writes about seniors' issues. Send e-mail to her at robertascole@hotmail. com.

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