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They put the grand in parenting

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Nothing could be better than to be a mother on Mother's Day -- except to be a grandmother.
I was having lunch at Park Vista Retirement Community in Youngstown and found, after talking with some of the residents, that being a grandmother is just plain grand; and for some, it is downright great.
"Oh yes, I have grandchildren," said Mary Kudrich. Then, before I could ask her any details about her grandchildren, she fast-forwarded with great excitement.
"I have a great-grandson," Mary exclaimed, as she whipped out pictures of an adorable little baby from her purse. "His name is ..." she paused for a moment, thinking. "Brandon ... Is it?" she asked a friend sitting next to her who merely shrugged. "Must be," Mary concluded. "Yes, Brandon. His name is Brandon."
I laughed out loud. "I can't remember my four children's names half the time," I told her. "I can't imagine remembering the names of two more generations!"
Didn't bother her
I could tell the loss of memory didn't even bother Mary. She was simply thrilled to be a great-grandmother to that wonderful little baby, who may or may not be called Brandon.
June Brownlie was sitting with a Disney Adventures magazine by the side of her plate. Her grandson had entered a contest describing household pets. Bookmarked to the page, June opened the magazine to reveal her contest winner. Aaron, 8, had a mischievous smile across his face as his gecko, Stripe, sat on the top of his head.
As June beamed over her grandson and described his visits and personality, it was like talking to every proud parent. Yet, there is something different about the beaming smile of a grandparent. It is less full of hope and more full of knowledge.
Parents hope they do everything right to help their children grow. Grandparents know that you don't have to do everything right for children to grow up well. Love is the wellspring of a grandparent's wisdom.
Which is why, as June was beaming over her grandson and his gecko, she mentioned that, upon the insistence of her grandson, she had held the gecko and allowed the lizard to crawl up her arm.
"Did you let it sit in your hair, too?" I asked her facetiously.
"Oh no," she smiled. Even the love of a grandparent has some boundaries.
"Sounds like something a grandmother would do," Virginia Axtmann said. Though she had two daughters, Virginia found herself dealing with garter snakes in milk cartons when her children were young. Now, she enjoys the lively adventures of three grandchildren.
This day for lunch, however, Virginia was enjoying the company of her cousin, Jackie Cummings.
"I call her Aunt Virginia," Jackie explains. "But she's really my cousin."
"Her mother and I were very close," Virginia smiles as both women tear up just a bit.
"I lost my mother a few years ago. She's like my mom," Jackie looks at Virginia as she shares her story. "I am a mother, but it would be awful not to have somebody to share Mother's Day with."
Motherhood knows no boundaries.
Brilliant grandkids
Before I left Park Vista that afternoon, I visited the residence of June and her husband, Ray. June is a painter and it seems that a few of her grandchildren have inherited her talent.
One grandchild painted a landscape scene for June's birthday one year. Another created a finger-painting dotted with stickers June had sent him.
"We have such brilliant children and grandchildren," Ray said in a joking voice with that familiar beaming smile that hints of knowledge.
Out of the mouths of grandparents.
May every brilliant child, grandchild and what's-his-name great-grandchild honor the wonderful women in their lives this Mother's Day.