EXCERPT: 'Eye of My Heart'

EXCERPT: Eye of My Heart

Barbara Graham has edited the book "Eye of My Heart: 27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother" in which women describe how the love they feel for their grandchildren differs from the love they feel for their children. They gush and talk straight about their new role in their families.

Read the excerpt below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

When Things Go Tilt

Claire Roberts

Of all the peoples whom I have studied, from city dwellers to cliff dwellers, I always find that at least 50 percent would prefer to have at least one jungle between themselves and their mothers-in-law. —Margaret Mead

My Gramma lobbied hard for Mom to name me something traditional, like Dagmar or Johanna. Dad vetoed that idea. Apparently Gramma forgave him, because she enjoyed a warm relationship with both my father and my mother to the end of her life. And me? Gramma loved me wholeheartedly— her love was tempered only slightly by Swedish reserve—and I adored her.

She used to ride the train halfway across the country to see us. Each time she came, we'd go out for a "grown-up lunch"— just the two of us. She loved to tell everyone that I was her favorite granddaughter. Our little joke: I was her only granddaughter, but I knew she was proud of me. Between visits, we wrote to each other. I can still picture her jagged, fountain-pen script. Unfortunately, I didn't have the sense to save her letters, and over time I've lost the sound of her voice, but never the tender tone.

Now with that background, I might seem to be a contender for a Grammy Award myself. Let me just say that I'm not holding my breath. Oh, my grandkids seem to have great affection for me. But to my son's wife, I am the dreaded abominable mother-in-law.

John, Rosie, and their daughters—Emma, thirteen, and Gracie, ten—live just ten miles away from me. For the past few years, I've gone to their house only when summoned by Emma. She's the glue that binds me to her family. A typical text message from her: GmaRUOK? Howz yr day lookin' ;-) luv em. What she's really asking is: "Gramma, would you puh- LEEZE come for me and take me somewhere with you?"

I used to fire back cheeky responses to Em's messages. I gave that up once I discovered I'm under surveillance. John monitors our text and e-mail exchanges. So these days, I word my answers carefully: lunch 2day? dbl chk w/parents! luv Gma. I'm a very cool techno-granny and a first-rate buttcoverer.

Once our get-together has been parentally sanctioned, I'm off to fetch Emma. Sadly, the longest leg of my journey is her driveway. I pull up, hoping she'll see me and come outside, but this rarely happens. I think Emma believes that by forcing me to come to the house, she can somehow be the catalyst for détente. Both she and Gracie understand that there's "a situation" with Gramma and their mother—and, therefore, with their father, too.

So, gut churning, I go to the door and ring the bell. Through the small front-door window, I see my daughter-in-law grab her coffee mug and sprint out of sight. Gracie races from the television room and usually beats Emma to the door. The moment I step into the foyer, I'm tangled in a clutch of thin, huggy arms. The girls' freshly washed hair smells like sunshine even in the House of Usher. Promising Gracie a playdate soon, I grab Emma's hand to go. Somewhere, just out of sight, Rosie clears her throat.

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