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The Other Grandma

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We were grandmothers together to two of the nicest grandkids anybody ever had.  It makes great comedy on television for the two grandmothers to engage in rivalry, but that never happened with us.  We both babysat—sometimes on the same day—passing those wonderful children between us with her sometimes coming to get them from me and I sometimes going to her home to pick them up.  I liked her a lot and never doubted that she gave my grandchildren the best of love and care.  Even after our children divorced, our relationship remained the same.  

Can you imagine how sad I was for my grandchildren when I recently learned that her cancer was terminal and she did not have much longer to live?  It was heartbreaking for me because of those grandchildren.  They were facing one of the most difficult losses of life at a time when it would be most devastating. 

When I saw my four-year-old granddaughter a couple of days later, I said to her, “Honey, I’m sorry your nana is so sick.”  Perhaps she didn’t want to talk about it; perhaps she was busy playing with cousins; or perhaps she didn’t really hear me.  All she replied was, “That’s okay.”

The next day, when I was with her again, after a few minutes, she nearly jumped in my face and yelled at me, “Aren’t you sorry about my nana?”

“Of course I am, Honey; remember, I told you I was sorry yesterday.”

“You didn’t.”

“I guess you didn’t hear me but I am sorry, Sweetheart.  I even wrote a prayer for your nana.”

“Where is it?” she demanded.  “Read it to me.”

“I don’t have it with me.  I left it at home, but we could say a prayer for Nana right now.” 

“No, write it.”

She brought a small piece of paper and thrust it at me.  As I struggled (out loud for her benefit) to find words, she scribbled on another piece of paper, first seeming to write what I said and later saying aloud words of her own.  When I had finished, she said she was going to mail the prayers to her Nana in the city where she was in the hospital.  She said, “I know how to mail things.”  Then she folded up both papers (rather messily) and asked me to write on them.  At her instruction, I wrote, “To Nana at Indianapolis.  She then immediately ran out of the house to place the “letters” in the rural mail box.

I made a mental note to tell her father to retrieve them later but I forgot to tell him.

Two days more passed and I saw my little granddaughter again.  She was not in a very good mood and I asked her why she was so “saucy” with me.  Her answer, “I want to be saucy because I’m mad and I’m sad.”  Of course I asked her why and her answer was heartbreaking.  “Because I don’t want my nana to go and I know she has to.  She has to next month.”

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“Because I know things; she tells me things.” And then she added in a tone of despair, “And the mail doesn’t even go to Indianapolis.” 

There was nothing I could do at that point but tell her I loved her.  I later learned that she was the one who got the mail every day for her daddy and she had been complaining about her letters not being taken until her dad finally looked at the box and discovered the “letters”. 

The very next day after this dear precocious child told me she knew her nana had to go, her mother called and asked that the child be brought to Nana’s bedside to say goodbye.  Her dad took those precious prayers along so she could give them to Nana personally.

I wept.  


Name Withheld  (Contributor’s request. See note below.)

Please  Note:   This is an entirely true and very recent story which is the reason why I request that my name be withheld if you use this article.

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