“Time to Feel Special,” Oct. 12, 2022

My granddaughter Eleanor is 7 years old, full of life and ready to rule the world. If you don’t believe me, ask her brothers.

When Elle spends a night with us, she brings a backpack full of “necessities”: five changes of clothing; at least one “fancy” dress; two swimsuits; books for reading; paper for drawing; crayons for coloring; two of her favorite stuffed animals; and an interesting assortment of hats.

She doesn’t pack a toothbrush, but keeps one at our place. She doesn’t bring a coat because she never gets cold. And though she adores her brothers, she leaves them at home, because it’s HER turn to feel special, not theirs.

Her backpack is coming apart at the seams. If she had a bigger one, she’d bring more stuff. I love the things she brings that don’t need to be packed: Laughs and hugs and lots of memories.

She sits at our dining room table, coloring a picture, staying within the lines. Her long brown hair, streaked with gold, flows down her back like a waterfall. One hand brushes it off her face. The other hand keeps coloring.

I wish you could see her.

Watching her, I recall two memories. The first is my daughter (Elle’s Auntie Nan) at Elle’s age, doing her homework at that same table. Same hair, same laugh, same readiness to rule the world. If you don’t believe me, ask her brothers.

The second memory is of me at Elle’s age, same hair, same laugh, but no interest in ruling the world. If you don’t believe me, don’t ask my brother.

Some of the happiest days of my childhood were spent with my grandmothers, who were as different from each other as two old women could possibly be.

One lived alone on a farm in the mountains where she knew the names of every living thing, trees, flowers, birds, snakes or anything else I needed to know.

The other lived in a small town where she knew every soul who passed her porch, where they’d been, what they’d bought and how much they’d paid for it.

One taught me how to crochet; the other taught me how to cheat at cards. I inherited both of their natures. Sometimes they argue in my head and I never know which side will win.

I wish you could hear them.

My grandmothers made me feel special to them. I was sure I was their favorite. My mother’s mother actually told me I was her favorite. I later learned she told other grandkids they were her favorites, too. But I knew she meant it most for me.

I have no desire to give my grandchildren my two-sided nature. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But I want Elle and her brothers and their cousins to know they are all special to me. Each one of them is my favorite.

Children need to feel special. They long to be somebody’s favorite. It takes a fair amount of time to give them that. That’s why God created grandparents.

Tonight was Elle’s turn to feel special to us. She milked it for all it’s worth. For dinner, she chose the Running Iron (where cowboy boots hang from the ceiling) and ate mac’n’cheese and apple pie.

When we came home she picked a movie (she swore “Home Alone” was OK with her mom) and stayed up late to laugh at it with us. Then I put her to bed in our guest room, read a book, said prayers and kissed her goodnight.

Minutes later, she screamed, “There’s a SPIDER on the wall!”

Papa Mark, our hero, removed the spider. But Elle’s eyes still looked as big as hubcaps. So I got in bed, pulled her close and promised to stay all night.

Soon she was snoring softly, with her arm across my face. And I recalled how it felt so long ago to fall asleep in the safety of my grandmother’s arms.

Tomorrow, we’ll pack up all her stuff, load it in the car and Elle will go home. I will miss her. But I hope she’ll take a few good memories to share some fine day with her grandchildren.

Can you guess what we plan to give her for Chistmas? Yes, a brand new backpack—pink with white unicorns—that will hold only half as much stuff.


  1. Terry Andry says

    Every column I swear is a new favorite, yet I have read them so many times over the last 20 years. They all have been so enjoyable. I always think back to the ones from down south with your brother and family.
    Keep up the good work. And pack a bag and go see those grandbabies often.

  2. Katie Musgrave says

    Sweet times & precious memories. Grandkids are the best. And, now special loves has arrived in the form of my first GREATGRANDCHILD ❤️

  3. Janet Mann says

    You are a dream come true! I can read your column each time and end up with no worries or troubles. You just lift my spirit to the heights. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us. You are one of a kind. GOD’s grace and peace to you and please keep up the good work!

  4. Kate Sciacca says

    FORGIVE ME, BUT YOU HAVE HER AGE WRONG…Elle was born maybe….MAYBE three years ago… no way is she seven. And IF she is (and I do mean IF) did you send her home with strict instructions to not grow any older???? I certainly hope so 😜😜

  5. Sheri Titcombe says

    Great column as usual. Love the name Eleanor

  6. Kathy Smith says

    I envy you all those grandbabies. I have only 2 my amazing Grand-daughter is now 20 yrs old and has always wanted to be as she says Queen of the World. My impossibly smart grandson is 19 yrs old and taking the world by storm. I am so proud of them. They are the lights of my life. Grandbabies are the best

  7. Cathy Followell says

    Oh my. This speaks to this Nana’s heart. Our grands have aged overnight to 14 and 11. How in the world does that happen? I have a lot to compete with in their lives now but I’m always ready for my summons to aid and abet them in whatever way they desire. I’ve been totally just silly about both of them since the day they arrived on this earth. I do my level best to always make them both feel special and make sure they know that my world turns much better if they are nearby. Enjoy your sweet grands..I know you do. I can hear your heart beating in the words you write about them!

  8. My almost 7(11days away) granddaughter spent the night last night. She brings her favorites too! We have so much fun. Nana sleeps upstairs with her & loves every second. I identify with you & your raising so much. Love this article❤️

  9. 💚💚💚

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