“A Letter to Elle,” May 8, 2023

This column was written in 2015, for my then newborn granddaughter, who is now 8, going on 21.

Dear Eleanor Rose,

It’s late. You are in your crib, bundled up like a pink burrito, in a room next to your mom and dad, who fell into bed a bit ago, limp as overcooked noodles. Your dogs are in their crate. Your cats are in their beds. Your brothers are in their bunks. All is right with the world. Everyone is sleeping, except me. I’m awake thinking of you.

There are things I want to tell you, things you need to know. Isn’t that what nanas do? The problem is, I’m not sure what those things might be. I keep thinking of catchy wisdoms to help you in years to come. But they’re mostly things you’ll figure out on your own. And they aren’t so catchy or wise. Anyhow. Bear with me. I’m your nana. Listen up.

First, I want to tell you about your family, all of us, your mom’s and your dad’s. We’re an interesting bunch. Not so different from most families, but unique in our own ways. Families are like babies. On the surface, they might look alike, but look closer and you’ll see no two are quite the same. We may take some getting used to, but you’ll manage. The main thing to know about us is this: We flat-out adore you.

I wish you could see us, how our faces light up at the mention of your name; how our voices soften when we speak of you; how our eyes shine and hearts melt when we hold you. You should read all the notes and hear all the messages from those who couldn’t be here to welcome you in person, but sent their love, just the same.

Have you noticed all those flashing lights? Those are iPhones snapping your photo with some proud relative. You’re our trophy. Our treasure. Our hope. Our promise, despite all the misery in the world, that life is good and it goes on.

We will be your family forever in body or in spirit, watching over you and cheering you on. Not just those of us you’ll meet. There are countless others who left this Earth before you were born. They, too, will watch over you and cheer you on from afar.

That’s the thing about love, Eleanor. There isn’t any barrier, any distance it can’t cross. And here’s one more thing about your family. We can be a lot of fun to hang out with. You’ll see.

Next, I’d like to offer a little advice. Take it or leave it, but remember, in the game of life, you’re a rookie. I’m a pro. These are things the game of life has taught me.

1. Take care of yourself. If you don’t, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.
2. Tell the truth. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Let your wealth be the gold others see shining in your words and your eyes and your deeds.
3. Treasure the men in your life and cherish the women, who’ll laugh with you in good times, weep with you in sorrow and tell you, “Honey, you’re not crazy.”
4. Pay attention. Be present. Count your blessings. Look for beauty and grace in everything and believe that you will find it.
5. Call your nana at least once a week. You can use other forms of communication, as well, but she’ll always need to hear your voice. If you visit her, she’ll spoil you rotten.

In closing, here’s a little secret: You are my favorite grandchild. Seriously. OK, it’s not a secret. You can tell your brothers and cousins. They’ll just laugh and say, “She tells us all we’re her favorites!” Which I do, of course. You are all my favorites. It’s not a competition. You each have your own place in my heart.

The older nanas get, our hearts keep getting bigger. My heart is pretty big. Take all the space you want.

I’m going to bed now. I need to take care of myself because I want so much, tomorrow and always, to help take care of you and your brothers and cousins.

Sleep well, sweet girl. Nana will watch over you. With her eyes closed. Possibly snoring. If you need anything, wake your dad.


  1. Katie Musgrave says

    ❤️ this ! My grandkids are so very loved. But, my GREATgranddaughter brings me much joy! Love ’em all !!

  2. Sharin…no truer words were ever spoken. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  3. CHope Hall says

    Such a beautiful letter to your granddaughter. Time flies now that she’s all grown. All of our grandkids are grown & some of them have kids of their own. We don’t see them very often any more & I miss them. I sure am thankful for the memories. God Bless & keep you & yours always.

  4. Polly Keintz says

    Love, love, love this!

Speak Your Mind