Sharon Randall: The gift of a child

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2022

Twelve years ago this week, I held in my arms a gift fresh from Heaven. It was slightly bigger and sweeter than a 5-pound sack of sugar. And it changed me into something new.

I was still all the things I had been before: A daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. I loved all those roles, wouldn’t trade them for the world.

But from then on, forever, I would also be a nana. It was a major career move, but I’d had years of training from my grandmothers. I’d studied those two women the way fans study movie stars. I wanted to be just like them. Except for their gray hair, false teeth and pot bellies.

But part of what I needed to know as a nana, I’d learned as a mother: Every child is unique. No two, or their needs, are the same. As mothers and grandmothers (and dads and grandpas) we need to love them for who they are, take time to be with them, and do our best to give them what they need.

It’s long hours, hard work, no pay, but the benefits are great.

Randy was named for my late husband, who left this world before Randy arrived. They never met, but share traits passed along through Randy’s dad: Curly hair, a gift for music and a mischievous grin that always makes me smile.

I wish you could see him.

I can’t believe he’s turning 12. Old people often look back on their lives and say, “Where on Earth does the time go?”

I used to laugh at that. (To a child, time crawls on its belly getting to Christmas.) But lately, I’ve started saying it, too.

Looking back over Randy’s 12 years, I can recall, oh, so many memories. Here are a few:

• When he was 2, he and I liked to sit in his playpen and pretend we were breaking out of jail. I’d let him climb on my back and roll over the side. But then, when he was supposed to pull me out, he’d run away laughing.

• When he was 4, I kept him for a night, and at bedtime, he said, “I kinda miss my mom and dad. But, Nana? Sometimes, I like it when it’s just you and me.”

• When he was 8, I visited his class to talk about writing and saw him beam with pride as his classmates laughed when I told them the “jail break” story.

• When he was 9, he folded an origami paper crane (like those on the cover of a book I wrote) and gave it to me for Christmas. It hangs in my living room.

• And recently, when he was 11, I watched him in his wetsuit (that he also wears for lessons to be a junior lifeguard) jump off a pier into the deep dark sea.

Years ago, when I remarried, I had no idea what a wonderful grandfather my new husband would be. We share nine grandkids (five boys, four girls, three from his side, six from mine.) Randy is our oldest. Our baby, Leilani, is just over a year.

Each one is a gift and a wealth of photos, videos and memories. Not to mention fingerprints on windows, cookie crumbs on the floor and Legos embedded in the soles of our feet. I could fill a library full of books with all the wonderful, funny, unforgettable things they have said and done.

You and I know countless people who’d make wonderful parents or grandparents, but for whatever reasons, they’ve never had children or grandchildren of their own. Yet, so many of them have found ways to invest in young lives _ as teachers or coaches or volunteers in youth programs, aunts or uncles or good neighbors and friends.

We all have children and grandchildren, whether they sleep in our arms or in our streets. They are gifts, every one of them, to be treasured.

To celebrate the birth of a child, I hope you’ll share this wish from you and me, the same wish I’ll give Randy: “Happy birthday, sweet child. So glad you were born. May all your birthday wishes come true.”

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 www.sharonrandall.com.

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