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Cute Grandbaby Story winner tugs at heart

“The Hands of a Child” is the title of our winning essay in the 10th annual Cute Grandbaby Story Contest. However, this beguiling description of a moment in time has as much to do with heart as it does with hands.

Moreover, this narrative reminds us how grandchildren speak to us of kindness and goodness, of innocence and the power of touch, one human reaching out to comfort another, someone in need.

The story transports us into a long-term care environment in Tempe, Ariz., where a partially blind, frail great-grandfather, the late Clifton Heffron, then 78, waits to greet Amber Lynn Sutter, a most precocious 2-year-old.

“This was a first meeting,” writes prize-winning author and grandmother Norma Heffron, of Clermont, Fla. “Amber’s mother and I were concerned. How would she react with the elderly people in the nursing home section where Great-Grandpa lived?”

Not to worry, Gram.

“Amber skipped in, giggling all the while. … It was as though she visited here every day,” continues the much-relieved grandparent. One more thing: “With her little hands, she patted everyone she saw. Then, it seemed like everyone was smiling and, of course, they wanted to touch Amber back.”

A retired schoolteacher and accustomed to studying children’s behavior, Norma Heffron said: “It was as though a sunbeam … a curly-headed blonde with blue eyes … shone through the nursing home.”

At one point, the child climbed onto Great-Grandmother Esther Heffron’s motorized scooter, honking the horn to announce their passage. The pair rounded a corner and drove right into Great-Grandfather’s room.

“Amber went immediately to him and gently touched his face. She seemed completely unafraid,” reported grandmother Norma. “She also appeared sensitive to his physical condition, but after a time climbed down, to continue playing in the room.” The grownups continued to visit.

Now Cliff Heffron had endured several strokes, was a diabetic and his heart health was compromised. Because he was largely inactive, his legs grew stiff and sore. From time to time, he reached down to rub his legs. Amber picked up on this, and sat before her great-grandfather, helping with the massage.

“All eyes in the room went to Amber,” recalled grandmother Heffron. “On that day, the tiny hands of a child suddenly brought great joy and, in some measure, a healing.”

Bringing the story up to date, this Florida grandmother says the memorable visit happened during December 1991. Amber’s great-grandfather died three months later.

The daughter of Kendall and Kimberly Sutter, of Winter Springs, Fla., Amber is approaching her 16th birthday. She is home schooled, plays the piano and is a self-published writer, author of a historical-adventure novel, “Rain of Redemption.”

Her grandmother’s postscript states: “She is still kind, sensitive and much aware of the needs of others.” To all other grandparents, Norma Heffron says, “Treasure each new day with your grandchildren, and offer thanks for the hands of a child … every child.”

To all the other grandparents who sent stories, pictures and heartfelt good wishes for a welcome opportunity to practice a little happy bragging, we send our thanks and our best wishes. Lastly, may you continue to experience the wonderment of spending time among your beloved grandchildren.

Prime Notes

  • A quote for the week: “Tell the image-makers and magazine sellers and the plastic surgeons that you are not afraid. That what you fear most is the death of imagination and originality and metaphor and passion. Then be bold and love your body. Stop fixing it. It was never broken.” This is Eve Ensler, author and playwright, in “The Good Body.”
  • Ensler is the founder of V-Day, www.vday.org, a worldwide movement to end violence againts women.
  • Talk about odd couples? How about Bob Dylan, 63, and Merle, the patriarch of country western, Haggard, 68, touring together? They even wear matching suits.
  • Asked what wife Joanne Woodward thinks of his hobby driving race cars, Paul Newman said: “She doesn’t buy jewelry, she doesn’t buy dresses. She buys insurance. Source: Sports Illustrated.
  • Meanwhile, Joanne told More magazine, “Sexiness wears thin and beauty fades, but to be with a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.”
  • At 87, correspondent Mike Wallace soldiers on at “60 Minutes,” despite two hearing aids, a heart pacemaker and a cardiac device in his left leg.
  • In a recent poll, 81 percent of respondents said people should pay Social Security taxes on incomes over $90,000. They presently are exempt. Note: Just six percent of U.S. workers earn more than $90,000 but they account for 17 percent of all wage income. Source: National Academy on an Aging Society.