H. Rider Haggard’s classic book, “She,” chronicles the life of the eternal woman whose name, Ayesha, means “giver of life” in Arabic.
When my first grandchild was born, I was still capable of having children of my own and really deplored the idea of being called “Grandma.” My husband, Jason, and I were our daughter Lisa’s advocates and were present, along with her husband and the midwife, at our grandson’s birth. What a magical moment, watching your first child bring forth her first child! It was Lisa’s suggestion, right there in the delivery room, for me to be known as “Ayesha.” Since it was one of my favorite stories, and the name was quite apt, Ayesha I became. It has never let me down and I have advised many soon-to-be grandmothers to also adopt it and use it as their own. Are we not givers of life?
As my grandchildren became older, they enjoyed introducing me to their friends as “Ayesha” and delighted in hearing them say, “She’s your grandmother?”
Vanity is obviously my middle name. I think I inherited the trait from my maternal grandmother who was sure, even as she approached 90, that workmen were still whistling at her... and perhaps they were. She had a very tiny waist, long black (not dyed) hair, and a somewhat haughty attitude. She was an extremely meticulous person, who would never appear outdoors with even a hair out of place.
My mother followed in her mother’s footsteps. I made her a grandmother at 44, an age when some of today’s women are just having their first child. Because she sang and hummed to my baby, Lisa called her “Lala” and the name stuck throughout five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Lala was five feet tall, wore three-inch heels until she was 96, and very, very beautiful. She had been in the theater in her early years, was named Miss New York by George Jessel when she was 16, and morphed into a nurse, a fundraiser, and a public speaker, and most of all, delighted in being the “grande dame” of the family.
On the other hand, my mother-in-law was kind of an Earth Mother. She enjoyed being “Grandma” to everyone, reveling in her age and title, beloved by all. We each approach and accept aging in our own ways, but accept it we must. It’s better than the alternative, isn’t it?
I like to quote an old adage that says: “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, while beautiful old people are works of art.”
Adrienne can be reached at AKL.firstname.lastname@example.org.