You know how they say that eventually we become our mothers? (It’s an especially frightening thought for you men out there, but just go with it for now.) Well, I have inched beyond becoming my mother. I am now my grandmother.
My mom’s mom, Estelle, was an elegant, high society woman. That’s not the part I have become. I somehow missed that gene. What I got from my grandmother was her interest—no, obsession—with weather. She was, quite possibly, the first un-official Weather Channel.
She lived in NYC all her adult life. Every morning, she’d bring her coffee and toast back to bed, turn on the television and begin her morning calls.
“Kathy, dahling, it looks like you’re getting a snowstorm today,” she’d report. Bear in mind that at 8 a.m., I was heading out the door to my nursing job, and in those days, the phone was still attached to the wall.
“It’s okay, Grandma,” I’d say. “We’re fine. I’ll watch the weather. Gotta go.”
But that wouldn’t do it. I’d get to work and hear from my mom, who lived about an hour away from me, here in Maine.
“Your grandmother called. Did you know we’re getting a storm today?”
Long distance, Grandma would keep us posted as to what we needed to watch for and fear. I somehow made it through all those years and snowstorms, which brings me to now.
As I write this, Hurricane Florence—such a lovely old-fashioned name—is bearing down on North Carolina. That’s where my older daughter Cassie, her husband Paul and their two children (my grandchildren—just so you know how important this is) are living, right in the path of Ol’ Florence. And although they are fortunate to live in a big, sturdy house (think Fort Knox) I still worry. Here’s why:
1. I know so much more than everyone else.
2. I graduated from the Estelle School of Weather and Expensive Footwear.
3. Anything can happen, friends!
4. Even though a girl in Myrtle Beach is seen doing cartwheels on TV and it is sunny, I see wind in the newscaster’s hair. Never mind that I think that contraption next to him might be a big fan.
5. Besides family, I have lots of friends in North Carolina.
6. Wind is scary, people!
7. I recently reduced my coffee and chocolate intake. I’m a tad edgy. To that end, I am refraining from any direct chat with absolutely anyone until my prescription is ready.
8. Scary TV theme songs, even when I turn off the local news, still play in my head, even when I go out on errands. I’ve developed Weather Report PTSD.
9. The governor of North Carolina keeps telling everyone how serious weather conditions are. His warnings have a huge impact on me because, well, he’s so darned cute. Probably not single…
10. Weather is powerful, y’all!
I call my daughter. A lot. I ask her to text me regularly with updates.
“But don’t use up your phone battery,” I warn. “Just call me every half hour.” I know. I never said I made sense. I just said I know everything.
“We’re OK, Mom,” she says patiently. “I’ll keep you posted.”
“What about Emma?” I ask. Emma is my granddaughter, who is in school at Duke. Not that I’m bragging. But…Duke.
Cassie ends up texting me the Duke app for tracking storm-related protocol.
“So you don’t have to keep texting and calling Emma,” she says. “She’s fine.”
I like that reassurance.
I’m so relieved, I go to reach for some celebratory chocolate, then remind myself of my new health kick.
“Hey, Em,” I text, “How’s it going?” and I throw in a bunch of cute emojis.
I do that just a few several, OK, many times. But what 19-year-old girl doesn’t want to hear from her grandmother every hour?!?
“I’m good, Gramz,” she writes back. “It’s actually kind of boring.”
Ahhh…nothing makes a grandma’s heart sing like the word “boring.”
By the time you read this, that Florence will be a storm of the past. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be more. Not that I’m trying to scare you with words like “snow” and “ice.” I mean, we are not strangers to ferocious weather in Maine. In my mind’s ears, even on this mild fall day, I can already hear the stirring sing-song instrumental “dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum” of the local weather reports.
So prepare yourselves. My grandmother would want that.
And know that I’ll be doing what I do best to keep us all on an even keel. The one smart thing that makes a difference. That will really help.
I’m going back to coffee and chocolate.
Kathy Eliscu, a retired RN, has received two Humor awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (2012 and 2018) for her “Lightly Roasted” column. Her humor novel “Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess” continues to be a “top seller” at Maine Authors Publishing. She blogs at kathyeliscu.com and lives in Scarborough.