“The Gift of a Child,” Aug. 16, 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-lb. 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 and 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 youngest, 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.”


  1. I just received my 5th grandson today August 16, and I’m so glad he was born. Your column is perfect timing! Thank you!

  2. Sheila Upchurch says

    Best gifts God has given me two sons and granddaughter!

  3. Ann Harrell says

    And then when you think your heart has all the love it can hold….along come great-grands!!! I am blessed with 6, 4 girls and 2 boys and another girl on the way. You are right, Sharon…each is unique and precious!!!!

  4. Kate Sciacca says

    Blessings on Randy! Oh my…. Where DID the time go?????? It seems as though it was a couple years back when you added “nana” to your bio. Our oldest grandson will be 21 in a few months…. And with a very serious lady friend I may soon add “great grandma” to my bio…. My oh my 😂😂

  5. Becoming a grandmother has been the greatest joy of my life. I love their hand prints on the windows – which I hate to clean and usually leave a small one in the corner. I love to hear them call my name,”Queenie,” short for Queen of the World because I wasn’t ready to be called Grandma. And I love when they come running in for a visit full of exciting news of their day, then are reluctant to leave when its time to go home. Being a grandparent has made this a wonderful time in my life. I wish grandchildren on everyone!
    Happy Birthday, Randy!

  6. Katie Musgrave says

    Happy, blessed birthday, Randy. So happy you made such fun, dear memories with your Nana! Cherish these times and continue making more memories!

  7. 💚💚💚💚💚

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