“Saying Goodbye,” April 18, 2023

This column is from 2014. The grandboys are older now (yes, so am I) but so far, they still seem to remember who I am.

Most things get easier with practice. But no matter how many times we do it, it never gets easier to say “goodbye.”

Some years ago, when my husband changed jobs, we left our families and friends in California to move to Las Vegas.
It was hard having 500 miles between us and the people we love. But we tried to make the best of it, visiting often, especially after grandchildren (that we thought we were never going to get) started coming out of the woodwork.

The difference between grown children and grandbabies is not how you feel about them. I love and miss mine all the same. But the little ones change overnight.

Skip a month in the life of a toddler and you’ve got to start all over. Not only will he forget you, he will look and act like an entirely different child, one that doesn’t want you near him.

My grown kids don’t change quite that fast. If I don’t see them for a month, at least I know they’ll remember me.

They’d better. I’ve spent a lot of years chiseling my name in their memory banks. I started when they were born: “I’m your mama,” I whispered in their tiny ears, “don’t you dare forget me.”

I said it so often that in time I didn’t need to say it. I could just give them a certain look and they knew what I meant. So far it seems to be working. Either they remember me or they’re pretty good at faking it.

The grandbabes are different. I don’t see them often enough to do much chiseling. But I try. For starters, I send them stuff. Books, usually, that cost $3.99 and ship for free. Talk about a bargain. I order online and a few days later, I get a call from a little voice: “Thank you for my book, Nana, I yuv it!”

And every time they see a FedEx truck, they shout, “Look! It’s Nana’s truck!”

When I go to visit, as I did recently, I send their parents out for a break, so I can spend time alone with each of the boys, doing whatever they like best.

Randy is 3. He likes trains. So I built a trestle that went nowhere, and he doubled over belly-laughing when I showed him how trains can fly.

Henry is 2. He likes jungle animals. So I threw a jungle party and all his favorite animals showed up: the lion, the rhino, the gorilla, the giraffe. And we danced until I dropped.

Wiley is 1. He likes his mama. I can’t compete with that. But he also likes to eat. So I fed him his favorites: eggs for breakfast, yogurt for lunch, pizza for dinner, crackers for snacks. And he gave me a big Wiley kiss.

I bathed them, diapered them, zipped them in their jammies and read 50 books, give or take. (“Goodnight, Gorilla,” “Giraffes Can’t Dance” and “Snuggle Puppy”were the biggest hits.)

Randy said, “Thank you, Nana, for being my nana.” Henry called me his “little darling.” Wiley pointed at me with his chubby finger and grinned.

Then I tucked them in bed, one by one, rubbed my face in their curls and asked God to watch over them forever and always and, please, Lord, bring their parents home soon.

It was easy. Exhausting, yes. Even my teeth got tired. But it was easy in the ways it’s always easy to do what you love to do. The hard part, as usual, was having to say goodbye.

It is an unnatural act to leave someone you love. Especially a child who can’t understand why you show up for a few days to build train tracks and throw jungle parties and let him eat too many crackers, and then get on an airplane and fly away.

There’s no way to explain it to them. So I kissed their parents and promised to come back soon. Then I hugged those little boys tighter than I should and whispered in their ears, “I’m your nana, don’t you dare forget me.”

Then I flew home and went online to send them more stuff.

You cannot buy love. You can only give it freely and hope to get it back. But $3.99 is a small price to pay for a memory.

And especially to get a delivery truck renamed in your honor.


  1. connie Skeels says

    Love this! I am blessed to live close to my grandkids but I still hate saying goodbye to them.
    Sure do miss your articles in my hometown paper!

  2. Katie Musgrave says

    This is love in action! Yes, I, too, have long-range relationships with my grandkids & now great granddaughter. We just, like you, make the most of our time spen5 tog3ther. Love ❤️

  3. CHope Hall says

    How beautiful. I miss the days when ours were home & I could hug them & read to them as we rocked in the rocker. There are now grand kids & some greats. They rarely see us & don’t have much to say when we call them. I’m happy for your getting the special time with yours. Your writing always brings back special wonderful memories. God bless!!

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