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Seldom are connections unusual and also lasting, especially when it is with a relative and ages so different. Kevin, one of my grandchildren, is now age 32 and the ‘three’ is unfamiliar as how quickly that has happened, he’s told me. I am an example that genes do not control destiny as no one on either parental line has ever reached 90. But as we’ve been through years of his appreciation of live theatre and music, understanding of confusing books both texts and novels, more hours one can count at his medical infusion center where life-saving material runs into his veins, rounds of golf, sharing soft ice cream from the same dish, long walks and real conversation, for example, we formed unspoken gestures that are meaningful.

His wife, truly a bashert, and I ‘touch’ and I trust her with real feelings. Hugs from both make ‘me feel safe.’ Now as the numbers on our calendars have shown 2024 ages, I’ve re-read what The Jewish Press published about our grandma/grandson pattern way back in 2008. It made me also think how privileged this has been to continue even as my life definitely has fewer years left. But I do believe, the capacity to love and feel will be part of Kevin for all the rest of his earthly days. We don’t often enough recognize the value of our words and gestures, so, readers, this is my honor to this man. Perhaps you’ve someone in your life you’d like to actually tell to his or her face about value to you because of ‘special’:


Do we recognize how special some people are in both our lives and theirs? Occasionally, the unexpected in a relationship happens just because of a staged play.

A local company performed Wilder’s play “Our Town” and I took my teenage grandson, Kevin. I saw it with eyes that have experienced multiple decades; yet, in the classic scene where a deceased character re-lived/viewed part of a day from her 12th birthday and realized that she had never noticed how young her parents were or the caring of those around her, I had tears that could not be contained. I so understood what the character was expressing. Kevin reached his hand out and clasped mine, making me feel safe and needed.

Had so much time already passed since I took him to an amusement park and he was tall enough to go on a virtual reality ride? My mind re-played it:

“I’m big enough, now, Grandma.” Kevin’s head measured exactly where a black line on a wooden board had been drawn. He waved then walked to a plastic seat, then disappeared from my view.

When Kevin re-appeared, he was walking down a ramp holding a banister.

“How was it?” I was waiting at the ride’s exit.

“Um,” Kevin hesitated. “Scary. I was really in space. I wanted to come home.” He kept his eyes on the floor and seemed embarrassed by his admission. “A big drop made me feel dizzy. When the metal bar let me out of my seat, my legs felt wobbly and I could hardly get up. Big kids were saying ‘man, that was cool,’ ‘out of sight,’ but I felt scared not ‘cool’.”

I ran my fingers gently through the boy’s hair. “Kevin, I was too afraid to even go with you on a ride that makes you think you’re racing through the skies.”

“Really?” Kevin looked up. “I didn’t know grown-ups were ever scared of anything.”

“Being grown hasn’t anything to do with feeling frightened when we travel to a strange place, are in unfamiliar situations, go on a roller coaster, or even reality rides.”

“You mean it’s okay to be frightened?”

“Well, I wouldn’t want things to do that to you… but to feel frightened when something is new, different, made to give you an experience, like this ride you were on, is the same for you and me. And it’s okay to say ‘no’ about going on these if they upset you.”

Kevin smiled, and squeezed his tiny hand into my palm.

“Those kids that said ‘cool’ probably were scared, so being honest with yourself and how you feel is really good. I’m proud of you.”

My present ‘ride,’ in the darkened theatre with the now-teen boy, caused me appreciate my childhood gift of security from sensitive parents, and my value as a grandparent. I’d thought his becoming bar mitzvah made me so miss my parents, but now this play made me wonder why hadn’t I noticed how young my father was when he died on Lag B’Omer at age 45; forties sounded ‘old,’ I wanted to tell Kevin. Instead I told him the play’s theme of taking time to notice life, its wonders, and loving folks, is a goal for him as no one really lives each day ‘noticing’ the people we assume will always be alive and with us. And the unknown ahead, for me, is no less scary than the child’s first virtual-reality ride.

Hearing the changes in my voice that indicated tears were still dripping, Kevin’s gesture to cover my hand with his was reality, and I felt so important and ‘safe.’

Having he and his wife smile at my husband I’ve loved since 1956, and also touch my hands ‘saying we’re here not just when you need us,’ as 90 balloons decorated the room, still makes me feel so important and safe.

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