By Bard Lindeman
Q. Thanks for letting us share our grandchild stories. By the way, how many stories can we submit?
- Grandma Taffy Landers,
A. You may submit as many stories for the 10th annual "Cute Grandbaby Story" contest as you have grandchildren. But, for those with grandkids in double-digits, prudence, please! I surely wouldn't want anyone to suffer writer's cramp.
Early submissions are looking good. Incidentally, the $100 first prize has nothing to do with this up-front enthusiasm, right?
To review, in 150 words or more, immortalize your grandbabies, including full names, ages, dates and locales where the experiences you describe took place. Add a phone number or e-mail address for a possible follow-up interview. Please, no handwritten chicken scratches.
Now, setting the bar high, here is storyteller Diane Wilson, of Latrobe, Penn., bragging on granddaughter Maddie Wilson, who plainly is wise at 7. Our story scene: a fourth Christmas for the maturing Miss Maddie. Her treasured holiday gift is a doll, which, after a few months, inexplicably turns green.
Seeking to be helpful, Grandma Diane telephones Maddie, fully aware of the unfolding childhood trauma. Indeed, she encounters an uncommunicative child. Gone is the "usual cheerful, talkative Maddie."
"What's wrong?" asks the solicitous grandmother, a practiced cheerer-upper.
"Mommy sent Emily back to the factory," a dour child reports.
"That's OK, honey," Grandma Diane says. "Emily was turning colors. You'll get a new doll."
From Maddie, quick as a flash: "Grandma, God says we should love all children, no matter of their color … and I loved Emily green."
Score one for early tolerance; yes, for diversity, for non-judgmental acceptance. In our household, the applause meter rang while a public reading took place.
"One glorious day, an array of glittery sunbeams bounced down to earth from heaven, and Her Royal Highness (insert name of grandchild) sparkled into my life. My whole inner being glowed warm and magical and this feeling continues every time I hear her voice or see her face. … Our life became a series of adventures…"
OK, but remember the contest is not about you. This vehicle is steered by our grandkids. What did your little rascal do or say that bears repeating … again and again? Every grandparent worth his Toys-R-Us credit card has two or three such bon mots. For example, check this tale from Janet Meyer, of Huntley, Ill.
"We all consider our grandchildren little angels," this level-headed grandparent begins. "I am no exception and recall the following situation: Grandchild Leah Bataille, age 4, was watching television with her mother and father. Seeing a resort advertisement, Leah's Mom said, 'That looks like heaven.'
"Questions and answers about heaven then followed, until finally, following a conversational lull, Leah piped up: 'Mommy and Daddy, you guys can go to heaven. I'd rather go to Grandma's.'"
An earlier admonition to edit your poignant prose was not meant to imply that emotion has no place in the submissions. Of course, it does. We're talking about children, and childlike passions: love, hate, wonder, fear, adoration and belief in a creator. Here is Grandma Jane Liana "Mom-Mom" of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., remembering just how grandson Cameron Sean Mulcahy, now 4, helped her through one of life's sternest trials.
"I was diagnosed with colon cancer in July, 2002," writes this grandmother. "I had to endure chemotherapy, as well as radiation treatments, and since I no longer drive my daughter Jacqueline Mulcahy took me from one hospital to another. Cameron, only 2 at the time, came along-and to everyone's amazement, knew all my doctors' names. He pronounced them correctly, too.
"One day, my daughter was running late because Cameron was furiously searching for something deep inside his toy chest. 'Here it is,' he announced to his mother. He then held up his doctor's kit. 'Now I can make Mom-Mom all better.'"
In a summary line, the grateful, surviving cancer patient adds: "Little did he know that just the sight of him every day made me feel better."
Now, most submissions begin, or end, with a gracious salutation: "Thanks for reading this." Grandmother Virginia Lane, of Elk Grove Village, Ill., adds, "It was therapeutic writing my story."
Most writing, I believe, serves as a tonic, and when your narrative features one or more grandchildren, those squirmy, giggling, irrepressible bundles of wholesomeness, don't we become partners in therapy, sharing something special? Perhaps it is I who should be calling out, "Thanks for the memories."
Lastly, label me a romantic, a cheerleader for intergenerational bonding, but grandparenting, which costs so very little, comes to us as life's bonus. Live long enough and you get hugged bigtime.
Send contest submissions to Bard Lindeman, 5428 Oxbow Road, Stone Mountain, GA 30087-1228. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fax c/o Bard (404) 815-5737.