Tag Archives: grandparents

On Being a Grandma

Scan_20150909Today is my granddaughter, Brenna’s birthday–she’s eighteen years old–Yikes! It seems like only yesterday that we were meeting her for the first time when we took her brother, Christopher to the hospital.

Christopher, who was two and a half, was anxious to get to the hospital,  but his first few moments with Brenna showed he had some doubts about this new family member.

Being a grandmother has been the source of some of my greatest joys in life. Before Christopher was born, I was given a book entitled “Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother.” It is a fun and engaging book and I related to it very well. The first chapter is about naming grandmother. The author points out that you won’t get to name the baby, but you will be able to choose what the baby calls you.  At first consideration, it doesn’t seem that important, but to someone used to calling an old person grandma, it is cause for concern.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about being called grandma, but I didn’t especially like any of the alternatives either.  Of course, it would be some time before that would actually be a concern. And what I learned is  you don’t name yourself, your grandchild decides what you will be called.  At first Chris called me “Ama.” Because my niece still calls my mother “Bema,” I figured that would be my name from then on. But by the time Brenna was old enough to talk, I was Grandma and my husband was Papa. We have carried those titles proudly ever since.

I have cherished every moment I have been fortunate to spend with my grandchildren, and look forward to any time I have with them.  When my grandchildren are staying with us, I put everything else aside and spend my time with them.  That time is too precious to waste on housework or other chores that can wait. There are better things to do, like hide and seek, or dress-up. I had a box full of bead necklaces. One of our favorite things to do was to hang them from the ceiling fan. Then we would turn on the fan and hide under a blanket while the beads flew around the room. It was great fun!

At one of their birthday parties, as they opened gift after gift, I came up with a idea. For the next birthday, we would spend a day with that grandchild. At first it was a day–a trip to the Phoenix Zoo, or a movie. Eventually, it grew into a short trip. We traveled to Tucson to see Kartchner Caverns and Old Tucson. We even hiked to the bottom of Havasupai Canyon. The gifts we have given them are long gone–broken, out grown. But the memories of the times we’ve spent with our grandchildren will be with them forever.

I want to close with a poem from “Funny You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother.”




China cupboards filled with cups of memories,

A piano’s tune that sang its note before me,

Secret drawers that hold my parent’s past,

All these are here for me to see

And so piece together what has gone before

To understand the people who once walked these halls.


For in the home my grandmother created,

I find the beginnings of the love I have inherited.



Meet the Petersons

IMG_0388_edited-1Melissa Peterson is the tall, blond, fashion-conscious member of the Handy Helpers. She lives with her mother, Fran, grandmother, Sarah, and seven-year-old sister, Trisha. In books one and two, Melissa’s father, Cody, is in the army in Afghanistan. He returns home for good at the end of book two.

Melissa likes to be well-dressed. While her friends are happy to be comfortable in jeans and T-shirts, Melissa chooses to wear designer jeans and fancy tops. According to Melissa, no outfit is complete without lots of accessories. She dons a myriad of scarves, jewelry, belts, and boots. Amber’s mother calls it dressing to the nines. Amber suggests that sometimes Melissa is guilty of dressing to the eighteens or even the twenty-sevens.

Melissa is definitely the most rebellious of the Handy Helpers. She is the one who comes up the crazy ideas. Fortunately, Amber and Laura are there to rein her in at times. Melissa is an intelligent young lady, but is sometimes lazy, especially when it comes to school work. She should be an A student like Laura, but her procrastination often costs her in the grade department.

Melissa’s relationship with her sister Trisha is typical of many girls growing up. Unlike Melissa, Trisha is a good student. She does her homework every day and appears to be a the perfect child. But looks can be deceiving. Trisha has a mind of her own and can be very sneaky. This conversation between Trisha and Melissa from book two is one of my favorites.

“I have to borrow one of your Junie B. Jones books,” Melissa told her sister, Trisha, as she walked into her room. “I’m supposed to read to the first-grade class in the library on Friday.”

“I’m going to the library Friday,” Trisha said. “Are you going to read to my class?”

“Yeah, I’m reading to your class. Now where are the Junie B. Jones books?”

“They’re on the shelf over there, but you’ll have to pay me a dollar for rent.”

“What are you talking about?” Melissa said, upset. “I gave you those books. They were mine.”

“You gave them to me, so now they’re mine.”

“I’m not paying you anything.”

“Then you can’t use my book.”

“We’ll see what Mom has to say about it.”

“Oh, all right, but you better not mess it up.”

Melissa’s mother, Fran, is the manager of the Pizza Pan restaurant. She is a busy but involved mother. Fran is patient but firm with both her daughters. Melissa has a close relationship with her mother and feels comfortable confiding in her at times. But it is Melissa’s grandmother, Sarah, that Melissa turns to often when she is having problems. Melissa and her grandmother share a love of swimming. Sarah was on her college swim team and even had a chance to be in the Olympics. When Melissa joins the Special Olympics unified swim team in book three, Sarah volunteers to be the coach.

Sarah is a loving grandmother who is always there, but doesn’t intrude–at least not too often. In book two, Melissa is struggling with her jealousy over Beth Anne. Sarah offers some advice which Melissa immediately blows off with “You just don’t understand. I wish things could go back to the way they were before Beth Anne came.” Later in the book when Melissa comes to see things differently, she realizes that her grandmother was right all along.

Melissa’s relationship with her father is one of her biggest challenges. While her father was in Afghanistan, Melissa enjoyed a certain amount of independence permitted by her mother.  At first, Melissa was excited when her father returned home and even more excited that he wasn’t going back. But as time goes on, her feelings change. Unsure about his role in the family, Cody tries to put restrictions on Melissa. Of course she struggles against this and their relationship is strained. Fran points out to Melissa that when her father left she was a little girl like Trisha. It will take him time to adjust to the changes.  This will be an on-going challenge for Melissa in future books.

The Handy Helpers books are available on amazon