Monday, March 6, 2006

Grandparents & Grandchildren Shared Memories, by Carol Abrams & Ferne Margulies

By Christina VanGinkel

When I first picked up this book, Grandparents & Grandchildren Shared Memories, by Carol Abrams & Ferne Margulies, I am not very sure what I was expecting. I was a new grandmother myself, and I came across the book at a table sale at the small bookstore we have in the local mall. It had the word grandparent in the title, and that was all it took me to buy it at the time. I am quite glad that I was drawn to the book for this simple reason, for I started reading it with no preconceived ideas of what it was about.

In the pages of this book, you will become lost in the stories of people lives. While the characters of each story included within the pages are of the factors that make up the title, grandparent, and grandchild, there are also others, such as the mothers and fathers that bridge the gap between the two generations. Not for every story, but enough that each story is unique. More than just individual stories between these two important generations, they are stories of love, hope, destiny's that were found, and lost, and then found again.

Take for instance one story that tells of a grandmother's first glimpse of what she perceives of as the perfect first grandchild. Her daughter gives birth a few months after the death of her mother's second husband, after a battle with cancer. The child she gives birth to is everything one could hope for. A little girl, full of all things that represent what is so good in life, in essence reaffirming the grandmother's belief in life itself, even after the loss of yet another husband. As the weeks and months go by, the little girl, the granddaughter that she had so much hope for the future in, is suddenly not reaching the milestones that most kids should be reaching. The doctors tell them al that there is nothing wrong, babies move at their own schedule, especially in things like crawling, and walking. When the little girl suddenly starts losing skills, she has worked so long and hard to gain though, even the doctors can no longer say she is just developing at her own pace, and finally recognize that there is a problem. The grandmother fears autism, but when she hears the truth, that the granddaughter whom she loves so fervently has Rett Syndrome, she is devastated. Rett Syndrome is a regressive disorder that actually takes a child backwards with the skills they have just newly learned, and then never allows them to relearn them. It locks them in a time warp at a developmental level that often leaves them not walking or talking, not even with the basic skills that many two or three year olds know. One week your child is learning to say ball, and puppy, and mommy, and a short time later, those dear sweet words that they worked so hard to master, are lost forever. The story goes beyond the grandmother learning the news though, it then tells how this granddaughter has enriched the lives of those around her. Of how much love this grandmother has for this very special child. Of just how special her coming into this world truly was.

The stories in this book are about older grandchildren, younger grandparents, vice versa, and many different scenarios. There is a story in the pages of this book sure to delight, enlighten, and just help each of us savor the grandchildren that we claim as our own. Another story that made me appreciate that I picked it up and did not leave it on the sale table where I came across it in the first place, tells the story of a group of college kids who adopted grandparents from a nearby nursing home. Some famous people also share their stories, including Carol Burnett, who made so many people laugh throughout her career. She tells of how she felt as her own grandchild made his big debut into this life, and how she was raised by her own grandmother whom she loved dearly.

If you are a new grandparent, or even if you are not, this book still has a lot to enjoy within its pages. Full of inspirational stories of family love, this is the perfect book to bring a smile to whoever takes the time to read it.

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