All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…
—Shakespeare, As You Like It
Life’s transitions tend to sneak up on us.
For example, when it dawned on my oldest son that high school wouldn’t last forever and beyond it was college plus this thing called The Rest of Your Life, involving responsibility and duty, he looked at me with big brown eyes full of gloom: “I don’t want to grow up.”
Alas. It happens.
But he found his way. Last fall he simultaneously started the pastorate, married, and became the dad of a beautiful four-year-old girl. That’s a lot of transitions in one fell swoop, and he’s embracing them all. He’s thriving.
One man in his time plays many parts . . .
All of a sudden, his father and I have reached the grandparent stage of life. While it’s the loveliest transition, I can’t keep from thinking, with a pang, How did I become this old? Truth is, there’s exactly the same age difference between my grandmother and me as there is between me and my new granddaughter. It shouldn’t seem so astonishing.
The hardest transition isn’t mine, however. It’s my granddaughter’s. She loves to come over, loves to climb in my lap with a book as much as I loved climbing into my Grandma’s with one. All of this is glorious fun. No, the hard part is what to call me. She’s used to saying Miss Fran:
“Miss Fran, I’m hungry!”
“Oooo, Miss Fran, I like your nails. Can you paint mine?”
“Can we have a popcorn party and watch Frozen again, Miss Fran?”
“Let’s go outside and blow bubbles, Miss Fran!”
She likes telling everyone that I am her grandmother now. She even likes pretending to be me. My son said that after I broke my foot she went clomping around their house with one rain boot on, saying “I’m Miss Fran!” Yikes.
This transition away from Miss Fran has proved challenging. But she’s working on it.
The other night she asked me to spell words for her with magnets on a whiteboard. I did, without realizing that she intended to copy them with a marker.
Here she is, writing with utmost care. A message to me.
With my new name, for the new role I get to play in her life:
Life just gets grander.
I asked her if she wanted to spell “Franna” with one ‘n’ or two. She chose two.