Thursday, January 6, 2011


My friend S. was in the foyer after the funeral this morning. Just a few weeks ago I played for her mother's memorial service, and I was worried that this might have been hard on her. She grinned, though, when I asked if the morning had been hard on her recent grief.

"Did it hit too close to home? No, if it weren't for funerals I wouldn't have any social life at all."

We laughed together, a bit ruefully, but we could commiserate about this stage in our lives: This was the third funeral in less than a month for the mother of one of my contemporaries, and we're now in the generation of older women.

Before I had children I dreamed of them growing from babyhood through childhood and into adulthood. Always in the background of the dream were their grandparents, though, and this seems to be the year the grandmothers are passing out of my friends' families.

Just as we're enjoying the joys of having adult children (and those joys are enormous and constantly emerging) I've found myself surprised by the abrupt transition to being the oldest generation. It's oddly similar to the transition that made me part of the middle generation.

Before I became a mother I read books about other mothers' experiences, and talked to every woman I knew about her mothering experience. Nothing could have prepared me, though, for the live-action 3D experience of motherhood itself. It was so vivid! So grey! So fun! So horrible! So magical! So unrelenting! So...everything. Still, I wouldn't have traded it for anything, except for when I would have traded it for, well, anything.

During this transition to being a mother, much as I loved and was supported by my husband, the hands that were holding me steady were women's hands. My own mother, my sisters, my friends, my mentors, women I saw in Wal-Mart who seemed to be parenting their children well.

And now, as my friends and sisters and I go through this new transition, again I see women supporting women. I hugged M. this morning, and told her what a great job her mother had done, just as women had hugged me at Mom's funeral a year ago.

Transitions are the responsibility of the women.

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