After a 25 year career at Queens College CUNY as education professor, I’d imagined retirement as a less stressful time, possibly peaceful, and certainly as mine to set the agenda, to outline daily activities around my own tastes …

Except … retirement coincided with me becoming the go-to grandmother for my grandkids, Angela (age 9), and her infant brother Matthew, when my son Hans and his wife Sandra, a native of Colombia, moved from New York City to live near me on the Connecticut coast … I was the near-by gran… Newly available …

In Sandra’s eyes, I detected a different version of my grandmother self than the image I held. Her gaze reflected a role for me fully embedded in daily life, the way it was in her Latin family. I flirted at the edges, at first, intrigued but baffled, jumping in and pulling back.

And then, it happened … Hello Lita! Short for abuelita, the beautiful name for little grandmother in Spanish.

Would I live up to expectations? Or flounder under resentments and a sense of life short-circuited?

Would it be the best of times? Or the worst? It turned out to be a lot of both, a new life entirely as grandmother, storyteller and writer. Read on.