In honor of Mother’s Day, Parentology is sharing stories of “Other Mothers” — women who aren’t the writer’s birth mother, but who still hold a special place in their lives. Meet Lauren Wellbank’s grandmother.
My grandmother gave me my first bath. I’d heard the story dozens of times, still, she delighted in telling it each and every time – my mother, aided by midwives, helped deliver me (unmedicated) – as my grandmother stood in the wings, cheering her on. Afterwards, while my mother took her well earned rest, my grandmother brought me to a nearby sink and gave me my first bath.
When we left the hospital, we went directly to my grandparent’s house. I was too young to remember those days, but as my grandmother told the story, she would wake up each morning and peek into the bedroom where my mother grew up. She’d smile and wave at me from her spot in the hallway if she saw I was stirring before the house had woken up for the day.
We eventually moved out, but I’d return often over the years. I have so many fond memories of standing in that same hallway, peeking into the living room while my grandmother watched late night monster movies.
Godzilla and King Kong were among her favorites, but all monster movies were fair game. I’d catch a glimpse of something scary on the television and then run out to sit on her ample lap for comfort. She’d click off the TV, snuggle me up, and slip me some of whatever candy she had been snacking on. When I was lucky it was Smarties, when I wasn’t it was black licorice.
Over the years we’d spend a lot of time together. We eventually returned to my mother’s hometown, and I landed back in that bedroom where I got my start. My grandmother was still quick to share her candy, and would make sure she had red licorice on hand for when we sat in the living room together to watch TV.
In 2014 my grandmother fell gravely ill. After an extended stay in the hospital, she came home for what we thought were going to be her final days. Instead, she surprised everyone and rallied. For two years we spent every single day together. I’d spend my days juggling my newborn and my elderly grandmother. Their needs were surprisingly similar: regular naps, snacks, and the soothing reassurances that everything was going to be okay.
We’d reverted happily and easily back to our old ways during that time, sharing snacks and watching old monster movies and creature features on the TV. She passed away peacefully in her sleep, more than two years after the doctors told us to prepare ourselves for the worse. I helped her take her final shower.
I’m thankful that I got to have her as a grandmother, but I’m even more grateful that I got to call her a friend. She shaped so much of my life: teaching me how to make homemade mac and cheese, introducing me to horror movies, and being a person that I always knew would pick up the phone when I called.
Happy Mother’s Day to my grandmother, my friend.