Carol Orsborn

The Grand Imposter

Huzzah! My son and his wife had a baby boy last week — my first grandchild — and I am completely over the moon. Think Fourth of July fireworks, the ones at the end where the sky fills with waterfalls of color, resounding booms and impossibly bright flashes. Add on the sweet smell in the air after the first good rain after a drought. Times two this with how you felt on the day you, yourself, turned five or sixteen or twenty-one and you'll get a sense of how thoroughly I'm filled with joy.

But all this doesn't make a grandmother. Not on your life. All this makes me "Can you believe I'm a grandmother?"

I'm also not 61 years old, while we're at it, which is definitively well over the average age of grandmotherhood (47). I'm "Isn't it wild that I'm 61?"

It's as if I've played a huge joke on the world, and that I'm completely getting away with something. I'm garnering all the perks of aging as if I were actually old enough to have merited them, while, in truth, my internal clock stopped ticking a couple of decades ago.

For instance, when I go to the movies, I wait for the ticket seller to wink when I ask for the reduced 60+ price...the same way they did years ago when I recall certain unnamed parents getting children's prices for their alleged 12-year-old.

When I'm asked for my age, be it in the DMV or the dentist’s office, I fully expect to hear the person on the other side of the counter say "Really? I would never have guessed!" I admit to getting a little thrill every time I proudly give my real age in social settings, issuing it as if it were something of a dare.

When the words of shock and awe don't spontaneously usher out of my conversation-partner's lips, no never mind. I'm sure they’re thinking it. In fact, be it discounts at Denny’s or showing around pictures of my adorable grandson, I find it equally amusing and gratifying whenever life is treating me as if I were really my age and life stage, while I am feeling less a grandmother and more a grand imposter.

I know that some of my good friends share this sense that we are fooling everybody—colluding together on a great inside joke.

Aside from the fact that many of us do look and feel much younger than our chronological ages, there is a contributing factor in my case. No matter how old I get, I am always the youngest in my family of origin. I was the youngest sister, cousin and daughter. After six decades, I am still always the last to do everything. I was the last to become a parent in the first place, the youngest to become an empty nester, the last to care-take and lose my parents and now I’m the youngest of the grandmothers.

I've also been married to the same man for four of these decades, and by some blessed magic spell, we still look the same age to one another as we did when we met at 21. (Hallucination? Denial? Good lighting?) And then, too, there are my adult children, who have been known to say things like, "When are you going to learn to act your age, mom!"

So, welcome to the world of magic and miracles, my darling grandson Mason Edward Maxwell. I am thrilled to be your Can You Believe I'm a Grandmother!?!? And something else, too. I trust that it won't be long before you learn how to wink!


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