I would like to become a grandmother – not an easy feat, since I’m not even a mother. Not ever having had maternal instincts, I’m feeling grandmotherly instincts these days.

Maybe it’s my age? Or maybe the birth of Baby Eli, making my Aunt Joyce a great-grandmother, and me, his cousin twice removed?

Or just maybe could it be that buying clothes for the small, stuffed gorilla I gave to my former occupational therapist Sallie is a yearning for the real thing?

My time is running out. I like to think that I’m too young to be a grandmother (I’m certainly not). If I keep thinking that, I guess I don’t have to face my mortality. Or is it my age I can’t face? And I wouldn’t want to be called “Grammie” or “Grandma.”

Come to think of it, it didn’t seem to bother my mother that she wasn’t a grandmother.

My maternal grandmother, Grammie Hawkins, was a spunky little woman who didn’t let her rheumatoid arthritis get her down. She was fun, courageous, wise and had the ability to take her limitations in stride. Since I was her oldest grandchild, I got to know her first, obviously, and we stayed close until she died when I was 21.

Occasionally my sister and I would stay for a weekend in Auburn with her and my grandfather. She would make us hot chocolate from scratch heated up in a pot. A great cook, she would make comfort food such as macaroni and cheese and tomatoes, and carrot pudding topped with lots of whipped cream.

In the mornings, we’d pay rapt attention as she got out her cardboard makeup box and put on her face with Noxzema cream and Coty powder.

When she went into a nursing home, I used to write her letters from college. And when I visited her, I’d tell her amusing anecdotes about the young men I met, and she understood.

My father’s mother, Grammie Sullivan, was from Italy and didn’t speak or understand much English, so I always felt as if I were in a foreign world around her. I can see her sparkly brown eyes as she laughed while talking in Italian to my father.

And I can feel that silver dollar she put in my hand on the sly as we were leaving so my mother wouldn’t find out. I was one of her many grandchildren, but because my father was her youngest son, and adored, we felt special, too.

My friends have regaled me for years with the adventures of their grandchildren. I try to remember names and who does what. And it’s not that I’m jealous, but I have nothing to share. What does a childless friend really have to compare?

So I am pondering my options. I could become a foster grandparent. Or I could chalk it up to “could have, should have.” But maybe, just maybe, one of my younger friends will let me take her children out for some grandparent-like excursions.