09/04/2014 10:51 am ET Updated Nov 04, 2014

Grandmothers: The Glue That Holds the Family Together

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We are nurturers. We come from love and have earned our "PhD in life." My Grandmother Recipe has a lot of sugar and spice and everything nice mixed with knowledge, values and wisdom.

Please do not allow family friction to interfere in your blessed role as a grandmother.

I have a blended family: six natural grandchildren, two adopted, three step-grandkids and seven from my husband's side. My role is to be a grandmother to all 18 children. What I do for one, I do for all. It is my responsibility to keep them together as a harmonious unit. My relationship with each is on a very personal level.

I come from love.

I listen.

I laugh. I engage.

I am their confidant.

I discuss the grandchildren with my children and daughter-in-laws when asked. This is my role as a GRANDmother -- and yours, too. How lucky are we?

That brings me to my grandson, Joe, my husband's natural grandson. He lives in California. Because of an estrangement between my husband and his son, Joe did not have contact with his grandfather. "What has one got to do with the other?" I would ask my husband.

"Make contact with Joe. Start a dialogue. He is away at school. He is 20 years old. He has a mind of his own. He needs a grandfather like you. Please don't deprive yourselves of establishing a relationship." My husband listened.

For one year, they spoke by phone and emailed. It was not easy, because children have loyalty to their parents. If Joe did not call back, I would say, "Call Joe. Be persistent. It is up to you." My husband listened. My husband cared. He wanted to bond with his grandson. He just needed a woman's little nudge.

Little by little over the course of the year, a bond was partially established. I was very happy. It did not matter to me that this child was not mine.


Joe wanted to attend college in Israel, the University of Haifa, and study Arabic and Muslim history. For the past two years, he has worked as an intern in the Governor's office. He wants to go into politics: either the CIA or FBI. His political science professor suggested he should study Arabic and Muslim history. Joe knew his only chance of realizing this opportunity was to apply for a scholarship.

Grandfather and grandson talked about this over the phone. They waited and waited to hear from the review board. The scholarship finally came through, although minimal.

"Send him to Israel. Give him the opportunity," I said. My husband listened.

"Joe, I want to send you to the University of Haifa, all expenses paid for the year. But not before I get to know you in person. Get on a flight and fly into Chicago for a few days so Honey and I can spend time with you. I will send you a ticket." Joe could not believe what he was hearing.

Two days later, Joe arrived at our door for a few days' stay. We did not want him to leave. He is everything you could dream of in a grandson: polite, appreciative, loving, gregarious, very organized, interested in others and smart. His parents did a fine job. We showed him the city, shopped for clothes at J. Crew, took him to all the "in" Chicago restaurants. We showered him with love. In return, he shared his love.

Today, Joe is in Israel. We are pen pals. We share daily emails back and forth from grandson to grandmother on all sorts of topics. We are establishing our bond.

I know this special story would not have happened without a grandmother's knowledge of the importance of putting in her "positive" two cents! Grammas, it is up to us to hold the family together.

If you are having family problems, my husband's endurance and positive the outcome is a good guide. It should give you hope. If you are angry with family members, try and get over it so you will have the joy and self-respect of knowing you are the glue that holds your family together.

Do Something GOOD Today: Overlook the anger, and think about the bigger picture. We GRANDmothers know life is too short!