Sharon Randall: Life, love persist

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 11, 2022

By Sharon Randall

How do you teach a child to understand something you have never quite understood?

Growing up in a big southern family, I knew what I wanted to be someday: A grandmama.

I loved my parents. But my grandmothers were the two most important people in my life. They made me feel safe and loved and smart. And they taught me all sort of things — how to read and write, how to listen closely, tell a good story, and look beyond someone’s face to see what’s in their heart.

Mostly they taught me how to love with abandon, holding nothing back, the way that they loved me. I knew they would love me forever on this Earth and someday from Heaven.

Every child needs that kind of love. It was a gift not only for me, but for my children and grandchildren and generations to come. Money helps, but love is a far richer inheritance.

My children never knew their grandmothers. Their dad lost his mom before we met. And we lived 3,000 miles from my mother, and visited only a few times before she died.

I wanted to teach my children all the things my grandmothers taught me. But I was busy being their mom — cooking their meals, doing their laundry, feeding their dog, going to their games and trying to keep my sanity.

It’s hard being a parent. Being a grandparent is easy, as long as the parents do most of the work.

My husband and I share nine grandchildren, all blessed with wonderful parents. It makes our job as grandparents not just easy, but fun. Only two things are hard: Finding time to spend with each child; and saying goodbye when it’s time to go.

Recently, I drove five hours south to spend a few days with my older son, his wife and their two little ones. Jonah is almost 3. Leilani is 8 months old.

When Leilani was born, I spent a few weeks with them and Jonah and I got to be good buddies. Since then, we’ve kept in touch with FaceTime calls. But I needed some real time.

So for four days last week, Jonah and I talked and laughed and played together. We read books, told stories and built tents to hide in from bears.

Leilani watched us closely, clapping her hands. Finally, it was time for me to go.

“Come sit here,” I said to Jonah, patting my lap. He climbed up and put his arm around my neck. Then I asked him the questions that I’ve trained him and his cousins to answer. I’ll teach them to Leilani when she’s older.

“How much do I love you?”

“All!” he said.

“And where is your nana when you can’t see her?”

He pointed to his chest and said, “In my heart!”

“Can you feel my love deep down in your heart?”

He thought about it a moment then nodded and smiled.

“I have to go now,” I said, “but I’ll come see you again.”

He turned away, but I took his face in my hands, smoothed his hair and smiled into his eyes.

“When someone goes away,” I said, “they take our love with them, and leave their love with us. You’ll always have my love and I’ll have yours. So if we miss each other, we’ll still feel loved and it will make us happy.”

Looking down, he pressed his hands together as if to pray. So I pulled him close and whispered, “Lord, bless this boy and his family. Bring us together again soon. And always help him feel how much he is loved. Amen.”

Then we hugged goodbye and I left, wishing we lived closer.

Driving home, the parched hills that were so threatened by wildfire were now drenched with rain and dazzling green.

I wish you could’ve seen them.

If a heart that is hurting feels loved, it’s like rainfall on dry land, a beautiful reminder that life and love persist. I may never understand it. But I hope to teach it to my grandchildren.

Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or