The Unexpected Gifts of Grandmotherhood


I’m a new grandma. My little grandson, Sawyer, is five months old, and it is going by so fast.

He is the light of our lives. My husband and I had no idea what it would be like to have a grandchild. I have found that my love for Sawyer is so different from the love I have for my own kids. It is also deep and strong but in a whole different way.

He has flooded my life with memories of raising my own kids, especially his dad. He is already a lot like his dad, and I must keep myself from constantly talking about him and all the things he used to do.

Sawyer’s dad was our first child, and, while they are no more loved than any of our other kids, firstborns are special in their very own way. Looking into Sawyer’s face makes me reflect back on so many sweet and precious times in my life. His arrival has also done something else that I completely did not foresee.

As I hold him and play with him, as I think of him when I’m shopping, and as I comfort him and try to make him laugh, I have found a new bond with my mom and mother-in-law that I never would have expected.

I understand now. I understand the love that flooded their hearts when they held my babies. I understand the joy that danced in their eyes as they would watch my kids open up gifts that they had bought for them. I understand their faith, as they prayed for my children that God would love and protect them always.

I understand now, and it has brought a connection to both of them that is hard to put into words. It is so unexpected, so strong. At times, it threatens to send me over. It is like a closeness to them that I reach out and try to touch, but then I realize all over again that I can’t.

There is a chasm between us now. I am living on the side called Time, and my two moms are on the other side called Eternity. Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia took them away from me slowly and then completely.

But Sawyer has added a new dimension to my relationships with my moms. Like receiving a gift from someone after they’re gone, he has given me a new connection with them—one that I treasure and that brings me great comfort.

Like putting on one of their old sweaters or walking in their old shoes, he has somehow wrapped them around my life and my heart in a whole new way.

He will never know their touch or see the joy dancing in their eyes. I will never see their faces filled with pride and love for my grandson. But my moms are alive and well in my heart, and little by little, I will pass those things on to him—pieces of me, pieces of his great-grandmas. They truly live on.

Bless us all in this journey.

Leeanne Chames advocates for dementia awareness, having lost her mother to Vascular Dementia and her mother-in-law to Alzheimer’s. She is the Executive Director of Memory People, an online dementia and memory impairment support and awareness group, and assists Rick Phelps, the founder of Memory People, in bringing awareness to these diseases.

Memory People

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This is beautifully written and expresses the unadulterated love, joy, delight and connection I feel for my own grandson. Since his birth, my blood pressure lowered and he brought a sense of peace which counterbalanced the difficult caregiving I was experiencing until my father died. Thank you for trying to describe a relationship too marvelous for words.
The start of a new generation in my family has me feeling the opposite, as I lay in bed the other night I felt the incredible weight of Time, the inevitability of the ascendance of a new generation and the decline of the past. I'm sure once I meet him I will be filled with joy, but I also know sorrow that he will never know the men and women who could have been such positive influences in his life.