bookends and babies

20130429-123257.jpg Yesterday we attended a birthday party for a set of twins celebrating their ninetieth birthday! How about that?

The Hubs’ extended family is much like the local clan — large, boisterous and a lot of fun. Usually I have to be reminded who is who but the birthday girls wore bright plastic beaded necklaces with large dangly “90” pendants. Too cute!

We were especially pleased that Ollie was able to attend the party for his great grandpa’s twin sisters. It was fun to introduce Oliver Lloyd to his great-this or once removed-that. Nearly every guest knew and loved Lloyd; they were delighted to meet his newest namesake.

The matriarch, Ollie’s great-g’ma, was also present, seated between the guests of honor. Her cheeks glowed rosy red with all the excitement. Country tunes played as food was served; the birthday song was sung, a poem read, thanksgiving said. All in all, sweetness.

I snapped a picture of Ollie and his second cousin, Maria, a few months older than he. More sweetness, dually decked out in spring green. They played on the tabletop as their mommies chatted. I couldn’t help but think about the difference it makes to raise a family in community. Every member is richly blessed by the support network that develops. It doesn’t have to be a family community, necessarily. Any loving community of common interests and shared values will do. Family bonds are a bonus.

Ollie is barely 90 days old and here we were to celebrate 90th birthdays! What a wonderful span of family life. I imagined Ollie and his great-g’ma Betty as a pair of bookends in our branch of the family library. Soon he will scoot over to make room for two more. His cousin Henry and second cousin Sophia are only a few weeks away from making their grand entrances. It’s anybody’s guess who will arrive next. (My money’s on Henry!)

20130429-121049.jpg I am so glad that our family library is not one of those dry, dusty places where you must hush and be still. It is not stuffy or somber. It’s a wonderfully vibrant and growing collection of great reads, none better than G’ma herself. She has welcomed each new edition over the years with great pride and joy. Each one of her grandchildren knows they are her favorite.

Grandparenting, I think, must be a delicate balance between biting your tongue and speaking your mind; between giving gifts because you can and teaching responsibility because you must; between being an ally, an advisor, and a friend and requiring accountability to the end. Yet always, always, loving unconditionally. I suspect seasoned grandparents know how to pray better than most, eh?

Somehow, my mother-in-law tread the path we all want to follow. She has established the gold standard and a grandparenting legacy. I can only hope to walk more than forty years in a grandma’s shoes; I’ve hardly broken in my GiGi cross-trainers! I’m just happy to say I’m on my way. Three months a GiGi and I’ve known so much joy with Oliver Lloyd!

~ René Morley

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