Cambrian: Opinion

Warming up the rocking chair for a trip to grandmotherhood

The columnist’s child, Baby Miles. Now a new generation is about to arrive.
The columnist’s child, Baby Miles. Now a new generation is about to arrive.

I was fortunate enough to leave behind the sprawl of Los Angeles and settle in Cambria, where I’ve lived the last 36 years of my life. In that time, I was blessed with two sons who were born at home, raised here and then, like many of our children, they moved away to start their own lives. I miss them, but it gives me an excuse to be tighter with my budget that I may travel once or twice a year and I am so proud of them both.

My longstanding joke to them was, “Whoever has the first grandchild, that’s where I’m moving!” Of course, I’ve had no desire to ever move and I’ve been given no need to consider it for the past 12 years. When you have little ones going through school, you meet people, make friends, connections. Working in various capacities in a small town, you do the same. I have an amazing life with an inordinate number of close and interesting relationships and countless acquaintances I look forward to seeing whenever I do. I’ve formed a decent rut that I cherish.

For a spell, both my boys were in Oregon: the older in Portland, the younger nearby in Forest Grove at school. Very convenient for visits and spoiling them. The older was always single, the younger never was but was flexible. A mother’s dream. Spending time eating out, hiking around, going to the movies or whatever. I’d fill my heart up and then slowly make my way back home to Cambria. Then, the shift.

The younger moved to Hawaii with his friends and girlfriend, all natives of that state. I truly was excited for him, making such a big move, even farther from home than the Great Northwest. His own path, his own adventure. However, my little momma antennae were starting to twitch nervously, sensing potential scenarios. The older had fallen in love not long before his sibling moved to the tropics. Both boys in serious relationships … OK. Now the older got married this summer past. OK … And is now expecting a child in May. Eek!

That onomatopoeia is twofold: utter thrill at being a gramma, as well as … what the heck do I do now? My threat about moving was not really a promise. And anyway, neither boy would ever expect me to hold to it. They know how in love with Cambria I am. But, still. The momma-to-be’s mother and family live in Germany. I know how grateful I was having my mom to help out on occasion when she retired to town. Sigh.

Having known so many grandparents in Cambria, I’ve heard all manner of stories and sagas. I’ve seen them move to be closer to the kids only to have the kids up and move for work or what-have-you. Then the other has kids. There you are even farther away from that one. Meanwhile, all your friends, your network, your safety net, your tribe … are all somewhere else. Can’t your replicate that elsewhere? I don’t know. I can’t imagine to what depth, at least.

Mind you, if I were to be directly asked to please come and help, we need you, well, I’d be there in a heartbeat! As it is, I am trying to save my ducats to take an extended time off next May to possibly greet the new Woodsmall boy and take care of the menial tasks around the house while the new parents get to bond. … OK, yes, and I can bond, too.

What is it about the prospect of grandchildren that gets me so teary-eyed? The thrill that your child is about to experience the same unimaginable depth of love you suffer? That they will find the happiness you find yourself yearning for once again? That maybe you will have a second chance to bestow all the wisdom you now have configured onto this receptive, pliable little human being? All the above, I am sure. But how to manage it?

All my life, I dreamed of having the “family compound.” As a child in the ’60s with associations with people who lived in communes, with the “preparedness” mindset as of late, that urge is just as strong as ever. To my delight, this son and his bride would be willing to buy into that as well. However, how to make as much of a living as he does up in the city of Portland? And, how could one ever afford property here in Cambria now?

There is time, and I know that it is time and the will of the universe that shall unfold the answers. So, save my money to visit, manifest a living that can be done from afar and … just start crocheting and sewing and dying and collecting all those little Gramma-things that are making my heart burst with joy and anticipation.

I’ve got my rocking chair warmed up!

Dianne Brooke’s column appears weekly and is special to The Cambrian. Visit her website at Email her at