Through the Eyes of Generations

My Mom just turned 65 this past week while she was here visiting from Oklahoma. We had her homemade lasagna dinner, complete with caesar salad and garlic bread, topped off with a lemon birthday cake. It was wonderfully delicious! The boys ate seconds, cake was topped with candles, Happy Birthday was sang with gusto and a few small gifts were opened. It was nice to spend mom's birthday with her....I'm not sure I can remember the last time we did and the fact her mom, my Gram, was here, made it all the more special.

After dinner, Scott took the kids upstairs for bath and bed prep...teeth, hair, tickles...the usual, while Gram, Mom and I sat with a glass of wine visiting a few minutes after dinner telling, or rather, listening, to Gram tell stories. I asked Gram if she could believe her daughter was 65, to which she responded with a mild grunt and heavy sigh, "Well, yes, it was a long time ago. Just wait until your boys turn 65, then you'll see." (Just a side note....I will be 98 when my oldest turns 65, compared to Gram who is 89!) From there, the conversation turned to the time of my mom's birth. Holy cow, we've come a LONG way in the area of child birth in the last 65 years!

She was telling us that when she had her two kids, my mom and uncle, that they put her to sleep, totally out! She says she still has no idea how my mom came out but that my uncle was 'an instrument baby'. Versus my experience of totally aware, no drugs at all, this blows my mind! But from there it got so funny.....she said they wouldn't allow women to go home until they pooped and there was only one communal bathroom at the end of the hall. Every morning, about the same time, she said the carts would come, similar to the meal carts that bring food nowadays, but this was a cart of bed pans. She said you could hear them rattling down the hall and you knew it was time...imagine, a scheduled bathroom break for an entire floor of new mothers! To make this situation worse, if you didn't, or hadn't pooped, you got an enema then had to shuffle to the end of the hall and wait in line at the bathroom! Many didn't make it in time... Can you imagine?! She lied and told them she'd done her business because there was no way she was going to try to shuffle and hold it!

Mom and I were in stiches! I can only imagine what my Gram was like in those days, young and spry...lying her way out of the maternity ward to avoid the community pooping hour. But to hear her tell it now, 65 years later, at the age of 89, tiny and frail, laughing to the sound of her own story, pounding the table with her fist of indignation at the thought of shuffling with all those women, cheeks squeezed, praying they, and the women next to them, made it.....well, it was priceless.

These moments are rare, but amid them I can see 3 generations of imperfect mothers who have done, and are still doing, the best they can in each moment. I'm thankful for the example and love of both of these women. That they can laugh at the end of the day, about the moments we've survived, is a gift and a legacy.

Gram, Julia, Momma