Sometimes when I meet people I have a visceral response, instantly feeling inadequate or unsure, other times there is nothing remarkable to note. I remember meeting Grace, Sean’s paternal grandmother, and feeling completely natural. I never tried to impress her, though she often remarked about things that made me feel grateful for her approval.
Unsolicited praise for your parenting is just something that doesn’t come along that often, and when it does, it can smack of false generosity. Grace was not someone who suffered fools. She could even come across as salty at times, despite being an incredibly religious and kind person. I think it was because of that, when she would laugh or say a kind word, it always seemed very genuine.
“Your girls are just lovely. Polite and sharp as tacks, you are doing a remarkable job.”
She always followed these remarks with a smile and a nod of her head as she watched them. I shouldn’t misrepresent things, we did not see her as often as we should have. You hear this from people so often and yet, still we delay visits, don’t send cards, or let the machine pick up the call.
I only sent Grace something once, it was her birthday, her 90th, maybe? I called a florist in Milford and ordered an arrangement of orchids. Her delight humbled me, “In all my years, I’ve never been given orchids. They are just lovely, lovely. Thank you so much.”
Every visit she’d kiss me on the cheek and put her hand around my waist. “You are so fit. Good for you, having these beautiful girls and staying so trim.” It made me smile, such a generational thing to say ‘trim.’ It wasn’t anything that I was aware of striving for and yet her approval touched me deep inside. She would tell me stories about Sean, her voice laced with a fondness. I loved the way she said his name and the pride she took in him and his accomplishments. Watching her take in the laughter and occasional mayhem of the family that had extended from her five grown children was a thing of beauty.
My mom tells the story that at our wedding Grace held court at a table with Sean’s dad and declared, “I couldn’t have picked a better girl for him if I’d done it myself.”
Grace M. Magee July 22, 1919 – November 30, 2013
Grace was here, a dear part of our life, and now she is gone. She lived with grace, she passed with grace, and in tender memories, Grace will live on with us, echoes of her own amazing parenting.