“Sunny Days Ahead,” July 28, 2020

My grandmothers did a lot of lovely things for me. Both were fine cooks, specializing in all my favorite foods, cornbread and biscuits and cobblers. Both read to me, sang with me, and told me hair-raising tales. One made a doll for me that I still treasure. The other taught me how to cheat at cards.

But what they did best was simple: They both seemed to like having me around. For me, that was enough.

I often wonder what my grandchildren will remember about me? I’m not a great cook. I don’t sew. And I’m never much good at cards, even if I cheat.

But if they remember nothing else, I hope they won’t forget how much I love having them around, laughing, telling stories, reading or just being together.

One of the hardest things for me in the past four months of this pandemic is all the time I’ve missed spending with people I love, all the laughs we haven’t shared, all the meals we haven’t eaten, all the memories we haven’t made together.

That’s especially true for my grandchildren. Childhood is a sacred door, open only for a while. The bond between a child and a grandparent—like mine with my grandmothers—can be strong enough to last forever. But it needs to be forged early, while the door is still open.

Lucky for me, I have modern miracles that my grandmothers never dreamed of—videos, emails, texts and Facetime–to keep in touch with my kids and grandkids. Communicating electronically is a far cry from holding each other close. One is real. The other is a substitute until the real thing comes along.

We take turns calling, texting and sending videos. Content doesn’t matter as much as seeing faces and hearing voices. Connecting is what truly counts.

Sometimes I read to the little people, or they read to me. Randy, my oldest grandchild, who’s almost 10, FaceTimed recently to say he had a “special book” he wanted to share with me: “Life,” by Cynthia Rylant.

I gave him that book a few years ago. He knows it’s one of my favorites, both for Rylant’s beautiful writing and Brendan Wenzel’s perfect illustrations.

“I’d love to hear you read it,” I said. And so, he began:

“’Life begins small. Even for the elephants. Then it grows…’”

He read every word of it with great expression, stopping at times to turn the book around to let me see the illustrations. When he finished, we took a moment to savor together the joy of a good book well read.

He said he also read it to his brother and sister and they loved it, too. Elle is 5. Wiley is 7. Elle liked the baby elephant. Wiley liked the snake in the grass.

“What’s your favorite part of the book?” I said.

He thought about it, then nodded. “Remember how it says, ‘Life is not always easy,’ then it shows a wilderness?”

“Yes,” I said, “I remember.”

“Well, after the wilderness, it shows a sunny day and it says ….” Opening the book, he turned to find the page, then read once again: “‘But wilderness eventually ends. And there is always a new road to take.’”

Closing the book, he smiled. “The sunny day,” he said, “that’s my favorite part.”

“Mine, too,” I said, laughing, “but why do you like it?”

His smile faded, making him look somehow older, and I saw in his sweet face a tender boy who is wise beyond his years.

“I like it, Nana, because sometimes, you know, we get kind of…sad? And it helps to know there’s sunny days ahead.”

I pictured my grandmothers smiling down on us from above. I think they’d like Randy a lot.

In the wilderness of this pandemic, when the dark road seems never to end, I look into the eyes of my loved ones and see the light of a sunny day.

I hope you can see it, too.

Comments

  1. debbie bjorklund says:

    Hi Sharon, I love your columns so much. A few weeks ago you wrote about your husband playing bass. I have found the happiest thing on the internet right now in these uncertain and difficult times. A family down in Tampa Florida has put together their own band. Colt Clark, his wife Aubree and their three children, put on a video every other night. Colt plays guitar and sings, Cash 10, plays the bass, Beckett 8 plays drums and daughter Bellamy 6 plays and dances to the music. Colt is a solo musician in Tampa and since the stay at home he has been unable to play his usual gigs and venues. They posted their first video just to stay in touch with family and church friends, so many people shared it and now they have had over 20,000.000 hits. They are so fun to watch and so talented, they have brought joy and happiness to people all over the world. Look them up and be prepared to smile! On you tube, they are Colt Clark and the Quarantine Kids. His wife does the video taping.

  2. Jenny G says:

    The meat loaf is on the oven, the peeled potatoes are ready to be boiled and I’m looking up a gluten free cobbler recipe as I type. The library books are stacked, the dolls lined up on the wall, and clean sheets waiting to snuggle those little people we miss so much! Our grandkids (And their parents) are flying in from Colorado today. We haven’t seen them since Christmas….and grandpa is picking them up at the airport as I prepare 7 year old’s requested meal. Oh how I long for more of these times but will settle for every moment we get.
    Love your column. You always hit a homer in putting into words what so many of us feel. Thanks for the reminder that there are sunny days ahead!

  3. Elizabeth Jo Heiliger says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey during this pandemic. Yes, grandchildren are truly missed as at 72 we are in the more vulnerable group age. As parents are in the work place with others who are not as cautious, the contact group extends too far for comfort. I chafe with having 3 grandchildren, ages 8 and 9, who will be spreading their wings further afield in just a few short years. You are so correct that while electronic connections are so helpful, they do not replace the physical interaction that is so great for both child and adult!

  4. SK says:

    Ms. Randall, I assume that you are quite a ways away distance wise from your Grand Children, family. Ours are within an hour away, and we still get together pandemic or not as their time (They are very busy, both working, the Parents) as often as possible. As a matter of fact, tomorrow my Wife & I are driving an 1.5 Hr. to visit her 83 yr. old Sister. Never know how much longer she will be around :-). Yes this Covid-19 also worries me, me being 71, Wife 68, but we can’t stop living, taking precautions, masks, etc.

  5. Kate Sciacca says:

    I was blessed with sunny days this past weekend. After a long dark spell the second eldest and his gang (two energetic boys, two sort of quiet girls and a pregnant Mrs.) drove over the hill on Friday and left this morning. The rest of the family (well, about 18 of them) went camping at Lassen National Park but this gang decided to “camp” at grandma’s house instead 😀👍🏻 I was never blessed with grandmothers… so it’s a bit of a “learn as you go” – but they’re good teachers and I’m a pretty quick study. Pancakes and bacon, biscuits and gravy, bbq burgers and Italian pasta made me quite the popular grandma…. just the medicine I needed 😉
    Hope you and the grands have many sunny days ahead…with lots of hugs, some fun at the beach and maybe a shared cake from Rosine’s 🙂

  6. Wrennah says:

    Thank you again Sharon! I will get that book to share with my Grans!!!!! ❤️👏🏻🎉✌🏻💕💖❤️

  7. Terry Brinker says:

    Sweet

  8. Katie says:

    Beautiful insight. The little children will lead us… Your grandson seems so tender and bright. God bless him and you for sharing this sunny moment in time. Praise God! Katie

    • Kate Sciacca says:

      Not sure why, but you were particularly on my mind yesterday so I offered prayers of comfort and healing for you. God Bless you 🙂

  9. Dick Daniel says:

    What insight he has!

  10. Carol says:

    Beautiful! Have really missed my grands, too😢

  11. SheilaThompson says:

    How sweet! I hope his wilderness ends soon & you can be together. This has to be hard on the children too.
    We waited over 8 weeks to get together as a family. Maybe our Hoosier restrictions are a little lighter than yours. But that 8 weeks seemed like an eternity & I was so glad to get back together with my family for our Sunday after church dinners. They always come here. Just yesterday, my oldest (17) grandson said “this has been the worst year of my life!” He said …”well it started out with a bang thinking we were getting ready for World War III & went straight into a pandemic.” He seldom shares his feelings so it bothered me to think about what is going on with our younger generation. Will it ever be the same? Somehow I’m not sure.
    Here is hoping & praying that in the coming weeks the sunshine breaks through our dark storms!

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