“For Eleanor, the New Girl on the Family Block,” column for Feb. 3, 2015

This is for my newborn granddaughter.

Dear Eleanor,

It’s late. You are in your crib, bundled up like a pink burrito, in a room next to your mom and dad, who fell into bed a bit ago, limp as overcooked noodles.

Your dogs are in their crate. Your cats are in their beds. Your brothers are in their bunks. All is right with the world. Everyone is sleeping, except me. I’m awake thinking of you.

There are things I want to tell you, things you need to know. Isn’t that what nanas do? The problem is, I’m not sure what those things might be. I keep thinking of catchy wisdoms to help you in years to come. But they’re mostly things you’ll figure out on your own. And they aren’t all that catchy or wise. Anyhow. Bear with me. I’m your nana. Listen up.

First, I want to tell you about your family, all of us together, your mom’s and your dad’s. We’re an interesting bunch. Not so different from most families, but unique in our own ways.

Families are like babies. On the surface, they might look alike, but look closer and you’ll see no two are quite the same. We may take some getting used to, but you’ll manage.

The main thing to know about us is this: We flat-out adore you.

I wish you could see us, how our faces light up at the mention of your name; how our voices soften when we speak of you; how our eyes shine and hearts melt when we hold you.

You should read all the notes and hear all the messages from those who couldn’t be here to welcome you in person, but sent their love, just the same.

Have you noticed all those flashing lights? Those are iPhones snapping your photo with some proud relative. You’re our trophy. Our treasure. Our hope. Our promise, despite all the misery in the world, that life is good and it goes on.

We will be your family forever in body or in spirit, watching over you and cheering you on. Not just those of us you’ll meet. There are countless others who left this Earth before you were born. They, too, will watch over you and cheer you on from afar.

That’s the thing about love, Eleanor. There isn’t any barrier, any distance it can’t cross.

One more thing about your family. We can be a lot of fun to hang out with. You’ll see.

Next, I’d like to offer a little advice. Take it or leave it, but remember, in the game of life, you’re a rookie. I’m a pro. These are things the game’s taught me.

1. Take care of yourself. If you don’t, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.

2. Tell the truth. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Let your wealth be the gold others see shining in your words and your eyes and your deeds.

3. Treasure the men in your life and cherish the women, who’ll laugh with you in good times, weep with you in sorrow and tell you, “Honey, you’re not crazy.”

4. Pay attention. Be present. Count your blessings. Look for beauty and grace in everything and believe that you will find it.

5. Call your nana at least once a week. You can use other forms of communication, as well, but she’ll always need to hear your voice. If you visit her, she’ll spoil you rotten. Count on it.

In closing, here’s a little secret: You are my favorite. Seriously. OK, it’s not a secret. You can tell your brothers and cousins. They’ll just laugh and say, “She tells us all we’re her favorites!”

Which I do, of course. You are all my favorites. It’s not a competition. You each have your own place in my heart. The older nanas get, our hearts keep getting bigger. My heart is pretty big. Take all the space you want.

I’m going to bed now, Eleanor. I need to take care of myself because I want so much, tomorrow and always, to help take care of you and your brothers and your cousins.

Sleep well, sweet girl. Nana will watch over you.

Yes, from afar. With her eyes closed.

If you need anything, wake your dad.


  1. Joyce Holder says

    I look forward every Wednesday to your column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, as it always bring a smile to my face and a tug to my heartstrings. Your column yesterday was especially meaningful to me, as we welcomed our first great-granddaughter just one month ago today (and our first great grandson will arrive in about six weeks). I, too, have told each one of my six grandchildren that they are my favorite, and they love arguing with each other about it now, even though they are all grown. And, as the family genealogist, I especially loved your lines about those gone before. Thanks for putting our thoughts into words.

  2. So beautifully and perfectly stated. My wish is to be a Nana (although mine call me Cece) who can offer everything to my grandchildren like you have to yours.

  3. Just a note to say, yes you’ve done it again, you always manage to pull my heart strings, Thanks for sweetening up my day!!! I always look forward to you columns!

  4. Could you tell us who your Grandchildren are named after. They have names that look like they maybe to honor someone. Would love to know the story..

    • Sharon Randall says

      Randy and Wiley are both named for their grandfathers and a great-grandfather. Henry Case has my maiden name. Eleanor Rose is named for her mother’s mother. Thanks so much for asking!

  5. sydney love says

    Sharon , you did it again. You say things in a way that come from my heart but just won’t come out of my mouth or mind. I love what you write. You are amazing. God has truly blessed you with a loving heart but also with the wisdom to say it so perfectly. Those grandchildren are so blessed to call you Nana and those children are so blessed to call you Mama. Thank you for being my friend from afar.

  6. Sage advice, Sharon, not just for Eleanor, but all of us.

    Continued blessings,


  7. That is the best letter a grand mom wrote to her few days old grandbaby girl . Of course girls need more letters like this each month ,each year, specially in teenage ,one every day . She would love to get even more . God bless you Sharon ,you are a jewel for your family and for each reader who gets so much inspiration to be best grandmother like you are . lot of love for sharing this column full of advices full of wisdom .

Speak Your Mind