Erin's Journals

Monday, September 13, 2021

Just a thought… We’re all in this together and that’s the beauty of our family. Loss brought us together, but love keeps us close. [Brooke Russell]

You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

Welcome to Monday and a brand new week. We’re away for a few days – three of them, actually – as we immerse ourselves in family and celebrate Grandparents’ Day! It’s Phil and Brooke’s first time out of the house with the kids overnight since they moved here a year ago, so we’re up island in a place called Nanoose Bay. We rented a house where the kids can (gently) have the run of the place, we can enjoy some nice time reconnecting – although we do see each other all the time – but just time together that we haven’t had since they stayed with us a month in July of last year.

So let’s talk about grandparenting. Rob and I are in a unique situation, but one that a lot of grandparents find themselves in, and that is one of welcoming a blended family. Of course Colin, is our grandson and then 2 years ago on the 30th of this month, along came sweet baby Jane.

At first we were like – okay…so how will this work? We’ll want to be her grandparents, but will we be? And then we found that, just as we welcomed Brooke into our lives when Phil started seeing her, we just had to open our hearts. And once again, WE were the winners here, too.

I mean, look at these two.

At almost seven years old, Colin is an amazing big brother. He dances with her, puts up with getting hit now and then, wrestles with the remotes and all of those sibling things. But most of all, he loves her to the moon and back. And he makes her laugh. Even when he’s having a sleepover with us, he’ll FaceTime her and it will usually turn a grumpy girl into a happy little sister.

But I have to tell you about a truly memorable and magical moment that happened just a week ago here.

We were at our place, saying our good-byes as the kids were all going home, getting ready for Colin’s first day in grade two. He ran out to the car and was ready to go, but Jane stayed and gave me her version of a hug, where she walks up, puts her face against my legs and says “Bye Grama.”

Then, something happened that none of us expected, but all of us witnessed: she went over to Rob, put her cheek to his thigh and said, “I love you Grandad.”

Rob started to cry. Tears welled in Brooke’s eyes, and Phil put his hand on his chest. I just watched it all happen. This moment, this unforgettable moment.

It had a bittersweet element, because Brooke’s dad is no longer here and HE is her grandad too. I was thinking of that in the moment and wondering how her heart was holding up. But the sweetest part of it was seeing a bond that had formed between these two: Grandude and Janey, right before our eyes. A flash that none of us will ever forget, when Rob had a little girl tell him that she loves him, just as he did so many times, a lifetime ago.

And then I laughed, remembering what Lauren would do (as I mention in my book Mourning Has Broken): she would say to us both, “I love you,” and I’d say, “Thank you honey.” And then with a wry smile, she’d add, “I was talking to Daddy.” I’m waiting for that from Jane: “I was talking to Grandude.”

Here’s to the joys and gifts of grandparenting in all its forms: the so-called “traditional” families, and those that are chosen out of love. The quote above is how Brooke so beautifully put it; I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Have a gentle week and I’ll be back with you Thursday. Brooke’s going to put ME on the hot seat for a journal you’ll have to see – a hipster lingo questionnaire – so it should be awesome. Or awkward. One of those AW words.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, September 13, 2021