A Humanizing Moment

I have a story about my Nana. Her name is Margaret, and I switched to calling her that as soon as I could pronounce it and she would let me. Margaret was home with my sister and I between when school let out and when my parents got home, helping to do some chores but mostly watching us play and bringing us goodies

Margaret is Italian and Catholic. She takes both very seriously, and we always knew it--whether she was cooking up a frittata or giving me a book on the story of Christmas as a Chanukah present, which fed my early interest in all sorts of religions. We would receive Easter baskets and she would come to the family Passover seders. Margaret is definitely family.

Naturally, when someone becomes a part of your family, you learn about their family. I knew Margaret's two grandsons as soon as I met her, each a few years older than me. Margaret would sometimes call me by their names and then chide herself for getting older and forgetful.

I bring up my Nana to talk about April, or rather, April as Gay Pride Month. Margaret probably would never associate herself with the concept--at least not before last year. One of her grandsons shared a house with another young man; that made sense to Margaret because he was an unmarried twenty-something, and it made sense that he wouldn't tell his grandmother anything more. But last summer, when the grandson and his partner decided to adopt a child, it was time someone spilled the beans.

Margaret is a regular at Mass as well as at the diocese's bingo; her beliefs are deeply rooted. When she learned that not only was the roommate not just a roommate but also that she was about to become an adoptive great-grandmother, it all came as quite a shock.

But what is most remarkable is what happened next.

Last August, after being briefed on all these developments by my mother, I went out for brunch with Margaret, a ritual for the age who still respond as her "babies." The conversation turned to the adopted great-grandson. She admitted at first she had been shocked by it all and somewhat repulsed, but she said now all of that was brushed aside by a more pressing concern: How would this be for the baby?

Margaret told me that she considered her opinions of her grandson's lifestyle almost irrelevant. It wouldn't be the choice she would make, she said, and it did disappoint her somewhat, but that was water under the bridge at this point, after the surprise. Now what she worried about was the little boy, and how he would grow up. After all, she said, doesn't every child need a mother?


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