Sunday, October 13, 2013

Long-Distance Grandmother

The Symphony opened its 35th season last night in a most spectacular fashion, but that is not what this post is about. Saturday was also the semi-annual book sale at our local library. Warren had dropped me off there on his way to open up the concert hall for the soloist to practice. After picking up a reserved book, I wandered back to the bookmobile garage, which was serving as the bookstore for the sale.
The Amazing Ramona

I bought three children's books with Ramona in mind, adding to the collection at home. As I sat in the sun and waited to Warren to swing back around for me, I wondered about the books I had just purchased and when to send them out west. If I bought all the children's books that caught my eye, I would be bankrupt. If I shipped all of the children's books I already have, Ben and Alise would have to jettison furniture to make room for them.

It has been eight months since we have held Ramona: that baby is long gone. We have been Skyping regularly as of late, and I marvel at the child Ramona has become. She blows kisses (smacking her hand to her lips and shouting "mmm-WAH!"), flails a hand (sometimes two) in hello or goodbye, and occasionally leans in startlingly close ("My, what BIG eyes you have, Ramona!") while bustling in and out of the camera range. It is always highly entertaining.

It's not the same as being there, wonderful as modern technology is. I hope that when we are finally all together again, Ramona will recognize our voices and make the connection between Grandma April and Grandpa Warren on the computer screen and Grandma April and Grandpa Warren in real life.

Alise's mother Mona (aka Grandma Mona) is a frequent visitor to Portland and is headed back there for Halloween. I'm grateful Mona is in Portland so often. She provides parenting (and mothering) to Ben and Alise and deeply devoted grandmothering (i.e., adoration) to Ramona. But I'd be less than honest if I said I wasn't a wee bit envious of her frequent trips.

It's hard to be a long-distance grandmother. As I pick books to send out, I sigh, wishing I could settle Ramona on my lap and we could turn the pages together. I just sent out a footed sleeper printed with dinosaurs and I want to be the one tucking her toes into the footies and zipping it up to her chin.

The last time we Skyped, Ben and I talked about the blocks. These are the wooden building blocks Ben and Sam played with, including the same ones my brothers and I played with and some of the same ones that my  mother played with when she was little. Ramona will be the fourth generation to play with these blocks and I know it is time to pack some up and ship them out. But it's hard: I want to see Ramona play with the blocks at my house.

In the spring or early summer, my Portland three will be coming east for a visit. There is a lot of family here who have not met Ramona, and many who have not seen Ben and Alise for many years (seven come this Christmas, but who's counting?). Do I need to add that I am looking forward eagerly to that visit?

Between now and then, it is a long, slow walk to the future. I know there will be more books; there is already a growing stack in the closet for Christmas. And the candy corn socks at the grocery today? (I went in for fruit and dish soap, really.) Well, they are already in a sealed envelope with Ramona's name and address on it.

And I will be living on furious waves and a big "mmm-WAH!" tossed to the sky, waiting for the future.


see you there! said...

Ah, you miss those close moments. I understand. Our GD lived close until she was 14 and moved to San Diego. I kept a smile on my face in public but I missed our time together. She's old enough to fly alone so Grandpa and I save our pennies (or free fly miles) and have her up here whenever we can. Maybe someday you can do that but it is a long wait I know.


Sharon said...

Oh April, I feel your pain. It is really different when you are in person vs. Skype. BUT I'm grateful for skype.

I inherited the coveted wooden blocks from my grandmother that we all played with at her house. I know I will not release them to any of my kids, they will stay here for grandchildren to use. You are brave to send yours. :)!

I hope early Spring comes sooner rather than later so that you can hold Ramona in your arms again!!