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The Love of a Grandparent

Recently I had written a condolence note to a co-worker. One of her Grands (a 3-month-old twin) had died suddenly in his mother’s arms. There is not much we can say to relieve the unbearable heaviness of such a loss except to say the family is in our thoughts and prayers.  I wrote quickly, not caring so much what I said as making sure I sent my sentiments when comfort was most needed.

The Love of a GrandparentIn her thank you note to me she acknowledged my prayers for her and her family, she also made a comment that mirrored my own thoughts. “As parents and grandparents I know you understand the anguish of our loss. We grieve for ourselves, but even more for our children, [the baby’s] parents.”

I understand. A few years ago I flew to Boston to be at the hospital bedside of a grandchild who had been hit by a car when out walking with her mother, my daughter. She had a concussion and fractured pelvis, and in those first 24 hours neither our family nor the team of doctors treating her knew had bad the concussion was nor what the long-term repercussions would be.

We were lucky. Two years later, my granddaughter, my daughter’s child, is thriving with seemingly no major after-effects from the accident. But I remember the double pain I felt that day. Pain for my granddaughter who at that moment was in unknown danger and pain for my daughter, who saw her child hit by a car and who had thought, for one dreadful moment, that her child was dead.

My co-worker’s note was also, in its way, a reminder that there are, thankfully, two sides to that double feeling. The joys a grandchild brings are also experienced twice. First in the wonder of whatever the child did or said that delights us, and then in the pleasure we see in the faces of the parents. Our children.

We double down no matter what.

Penelope Lemov

As Penelope Lemov, I'm a senior correspondent and finance columnist for a national magazine. Everyone else knows me as Penny. In that richer and more personal life, I have two grown children, both of whom have started families of their own--in cities far from the familial manse and from each other. Among the smallest denizens of that world, I'm PenPen. And that suits me best.

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Susan Bonifant

Thursday 7th of January 2016

What a strong piece and startling reminder. We don't have grandchildren yet, but every word here is probably descriptive of how my parents felt when I was raising children and had the odd crisis to get through. Thank you Penelope/Penny.

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