from Parent to Grandparent

I have a reputation in the family for getting lost while driving even when I know where I’m going.  U-turns are a fact of driving life with me. I really think that life changes are u-turns. Such language turns these changes into possibilities. They transform into new experiences, new sights, new ideas. Upon further thought I realized that there are at least two kinds of u-turns. Some u-turns like marriage, birth, grandchildren, school, and even death are part of our ordinary lives. With these we stay on the same road but realize that where we need to be is on the other side.  So around we go in a different direction. But some changes are so life altering that we end up on a road we have never seen before. We have no map and no plan. I’ve had those but they’re not my concern today.

After writing about my dish meditation epiphany, I thought it would be fun to look at the birth of grandchildren. As usual I’ve gotten to my subject by going in circles.  Should I do the girl I mentioned first? Or should I go in birth order? The choice changes daily. You could make a case for her birth being the logical first u-turn I look at here. She was the first girl born since my generation. However, I’m going with the birth of my first grandchild. This was to be the first grandchild for both sets of grandparents that makes it a definite u-turn. One minute you’re a parent of adult children.  The next minute you are suddenly your parents.  All these images crop up. You should be wise, grey and settled. You definitely shouldn’t still be wondering what you’re going to do when you grow up! I couldn’t find any grey hair.  And where was it I put wisdom again?

Fortunately for me my fellow grandmother to be was a free spirit as well. The agreement was we grandmothers would fly down as soon as we got the word that labor had started.  We were supposed to pack ahead of time. I didn’t. So I threw clothes in the suitcase, my make up bag etc. etc. etc. However, I didn’t do my usual careful placing of vitamins and meds into plastic bags. Nope, I threw bottles into the suitcase. Heaeaeavyyyy. The flight is a blur. I do remember landing. Sandy, my co-traveler, pushed us through the crowds yelling, “Let us by. We’re having a baby.” We got a few strange looks and a few chuckles. Car rental necessitated some checking-Baggage? Check. Grandmothers? Check. How the car works? No! We flew down the freeway windshield wipers going on a dry July day. Tickers tick-tocking we changed lanes often flying past less excited cars. We were wild women drivers even for Los Angeles.

We did make it safely to the hospital. Answers to our breathless questions led us to the right room. I won’t burden you with all the details. I’ll just say we grandmothers had plenty of time to bond. By the end of labor and birth, we were grandmothers together for life and loving it.

With what turned out to be a precedent of setting pen to paper, I wrote a poem to capture what a camera could never do.


lone star

crescent moon

lights glowing on

a near night sky

point to

mountains etched

against sunset’s

purple ribbons

all these

arrows shot

from God’s hand

evening images

for the miracle

of new life

in a hospital

birthing room

tears plunge

down four

faces mother

father grandmothers

all faces bent

as a new life

falls like

a comet into

our stitched together

lives,  wondrous

For Taljon Joshua De Ruiter from the Grandma

who makes pictures of words

Taljon is 18 now and a delightful young man. Tempted by trips down memory lane, I almost included here favorite memories of Taljon’s words of wisdom pronounced with toddler certainty.  These bites of wisdom found a receptive audience. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles had at last a living, animated toy to play with.  It’s a wonder he made it to adulthood but he did and all that toddler wisdom and his love of dressing up have found a worthy home in film.  He is now a cinematography student at Biola University. Two of the links below are to short films he’s created. The third is to his photography website. The rather long intimidating link involving Facebook sends you to a warning about not giving your facebook password to anyone and then it brings up Taljon’s page or you can type in vimeo.com and search for Taljon Productions if you feel better about that. The two films that are there are shorts with no dialogue. Beautiful Surrender is a poem in film and Chasing Destiny will give you your healing laugh for the day. Pardon my print u-turn into my proud grandmother role. I tried to resist and didn’t succeed.




Embracing my assorted and never boring u-turns,


About Winding Stream Press

Janice DeRuiter Eskridge, M.F.A. is a poet who worked for over a decade as a poet-teacher for California Poets in the Schools. Helen Shoemaker, Ph.D. L.M.F.T. is a university professor who teaches in the areas of child development and counseling. She is also a therapist in private practice.
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3 Responses to U-Turns-Birth

  1. jser67 says:

    As a grandmother, I can relate. I LOVED the story of the way you got to the hospital/ I’ve written pieces for my children and grandchildren. This is GREAT!


    • Thank you for enjoying our wacky moment. I enjoy running off at the mouth before I post my poems-especially the type about family events. They are so difficult to make work as ‘public’ poems. It is always a challenge to make a poem about a happening in your life grow into something that can speak to everyone or at least to the people who like your work.

      *Janice DeRuiter*

      uphill we walk into rarified air here the air thins until all that’s left is breathing and short gasps of blue-green words


  2. k.lyn says:

    I can never get through that poem without crying and I hate to cry. The blog-prelude officially makes it worse. My sarcastic affirmation is a bi-product of being under the influence of marriage to your son. Thank you so much of documenting some of my favorite moments in life Bamma!


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