“A Double Celebration,” Aug. 20, 2018

We celebrate some birthdays with a bounce house. Others we observe quietly in our heart. But every birthday of a loved one is a joyful occasion, especially when we celebrate two at once.

My oldest grandchild, who just turned 8, was born on my mother’s birthday. She died long before Randy lit up my life. The fact that they share a birthday is no surprise. I think my mother probably arranged it with God. She wanted what we all want: To be remembered. So she pulled a few strings and sent me a divine reminder.

I wish you could see him.

Red hair is not uncommon in our family, but Randy takes red to a whole new level, with the same sheep’s wool curls that he inherited from his dad.

One great thing about a red wooly head is that it is easy to spot in a bounce house. That was my self-appointed nana duty at Randy’s party: To keep track of him; his brother, Wiley, who’s 5; their sister, Eleanor, who is 3; and their cousin, Henry, who’s almost 7. Their parents, my daughter-in-law’s parents and my husband, bless them, were all keeping watch over them, too.

But my mother taught me, by her example, that grandmothers have a special calling to watch and worry and pray. We get years of practice with our children. By the time grandkids come along, we are pros.

I’m better at worrying than at watching, and I tend to pray last, not first, as I should. I am not a perfect nana. But I try.

Let me just say this. Bounce house parties are a nana’s worst nightmare. Picture a lovely, grassy park with several thousand children (my estimate, give or take) running wild like herds of stampeding cattle from the pizza table to the bounce house to the climbing structure/slide/death trap.

I have only two eyes, dulled by years of being glued to my kids. Eyeballing four grandbabes is like juggling live chickens. You don’t expect to catch them. You just pray nobody gets hurt.

Meanwhile, I kept hearing my mother pound on the door of my sanity, crying, “Wiley will fall off that slide! Henry is swinging too high on that swing! Elle is at the bottom of the pile in the bounce house! And Randy is nowhere in sight! Can’t you do something?”

Finally, I pressed my hands to my ears, closed my eyes and whispered, “Happy birthday, Mama. Thanks for being here.”

Suddenly, I felt two sweaty arms wrap around my middle. I opened my eyes and looked down at a mop of red curls.

“I love you, Nana!” said the birthday boy. “I love you, too!” I said, laughing. “Are you having fun?”

He grinned a big “yes!” and took off with his buddies.

Elle ran up to show me her rainbow butterfly face paint.

“Nana!” Henry called from the swing. “Come push me higher!”

And at the top of the slide, somewhere in the stratosphere, Wiley scanned the crowd, found my eyes, smiled, waved and slid like greased lightning to Earth.

All safe and accounted for.

An hour later, we were packing up pizza boxes when I felt a tug on my pants’ leg. I looked down and saw a boy about 4 years old.

“Are you a grannie?” he said.

I stopped to think.

“Well, yes,” I said, “I am.”

“Can you get me that b’oon?”

He pointed to the sky where a pale green balloon had broken free from a pack of others and was making a run for heaven.

I knelt down to take the boy’s face in my hands. “I’d get it for you if I could,” I said. “But it’s off on a grand adventure.”

We watched it sail out of sight. Then the boy looked up at me. “Thank you, Grannie,” he said, and ran off to find his mom.

We all have children and grandchildren who need us to watch over them, whether they sleep in our arms, or in our streets, or just tug on our heart at a birthday party.

I hope my mother liked her balloon.



  1. Brenda Whitfield says

    I love your columns & buy sunday paper just for your columns! So dissappointed that there wasn’t one in today’s paper. I thought that maybe you just needed a break? Hopefully, there will be one next week. Thank you Sharon for all your sharing. Thought about book yet?

  2. Anne Regier says

    Your columns are so much fun. I read them every Sunday morning. I, too, am a Grannie. My oldest grandson, when he was very little, called me Grannie Annie and it stuck. I love it and it makes me laugh every time I hear it from any of my grandkids.

  3. Kate Sciacca says

    Another perfectly painted picture! My kids tend to rent the bounce house now and put it in their backyards for the afternoon… easier on the nerves ?

    Isn’t that the best? When little people just KNOW we are “grannies” ?

  4. Colleen Richter says

    No one makes me agree, laugh, or cry (mostly cry) than Ms. Randall.
    I’m a grammy, and a great grammy (8 + 2 more on the way). My parents died within a short time of each other. Both had enjoyed their grands and great grands SO much, and I know they are watching from Heaven – perhaps waiting for a green balloon – but mostly enjoying the show…of the kids and of me watching those kids, often with my heart in my mouth, but always with a heart full of love.
    Thanks for all of your wonderful and insightful articles!

  5. Congratulations, Sharon! You made me smile and smile and then cry.
    Happy Belated Birthday to Randy and your mom.
    Continued blessings,

  6. Elaine Mccaffery says

    I loved this about your grand babies. As usual your writing tugged at my heart. Made me reminisce about years past about my own children and their children birthday parties are just a memory now. Grandsons are now in their twenties. Oh ,to have those days back again. Love your babies as long as you can. They grow up too fast. Happy birthday to Randy.

  7. My grandchildren are all grown – now I am enjoying four great-grandchildren. The next to youngest is a bit rambunctious and loves to jump around. Not that too long ago, as he jumped in my lap, I cautioned him to be a bit careful as “Nanny is old.” He then asked, “Are you old?” I answered yes I am and his reply was, “Why then you not in heaven.”

    Love your columns.

  8. Donna Miller says

    My grandchildren are Madie (19) and Ryan (16), blink and yours will be too. I am grandmama to them and their friends, many who do not have a grandparent or sadly are not important to their grandparents, I can’t imagine. My husband and I teach a young adult Bible study, we now have 16 more grandchildren to love, ranging from 10 to yet to come, it’s rare we don’t have a birthday party to attend, the twins, Jacob & Nathan will be 6, having their party @ the dinosaur park, CAN’T WAIT !!!!!

  9. How much fun was that! Isn’t it amazing how our hearts can be so full of love for each grandchild? I love being a grandma to 5. I too have been picked out as being a granny. Sometimes while grocery shopping a child in a cart will catch my eye & I always try to give them a smile. They seem to pick us out! Of course my white hair sort of gives it away!
    What a sweet story! ??❤️??

  10. Janice Kline says

    Thank you Sharon for once again sharing your amazing insight on our (all the granny’s out there) world.

  11. I love your stories. I too have a birthday twin. My first grandchild was born on my birthday. I love all 5 of my grandchildren but this boy will always have a special place in my heart. Best birthday gift ever!

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