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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Esther's Grandma

My best friend is a grandma for the first time.

We met as young professionals in opposition, but something sparked -- I admired her strength of will, her honesty, her emotional courage and straightforwardness. There was something about her that told me I would never get anything but the truth from her, even if it was hard to hear at times. This is a rare gift that only a few people have, and I was privileged to become her friend.

She is also the person who taught me everything I know, everything good, everything necessary about parenting. A single parent who has had to raise two boys without an involved father while also holding an extremely high pressured career position, she did a better job than many stay-at-home moms I've known. The same strength and honesty she brought to her friendships and collegial relationships she also brought to her home life. Whatever pain or bitterness or disappointment her Ex brought her, she never put it on display in front of her kids --- and she refused to allow her women friends to do so either. The rules were: (1) my children are always included or I'm not available; (2) no bad words or facial grimaces will ever appear in my house to make my sons feel badly about Dad.

She taught her sons self-reliance, respect for others including respect for women, honesty, compassion and fairness. She taught them integrity and the importance of love and of family. She taught it by example as well as by words: it is the way she has lived her life.

I once asked her how to explain something to a group of people. I've never forgotten her answer: Speak from the heart.

She holds her reward for those long, painful and sometimes lonely years in her hands today -- her first grandchild. The reward that parents who really love their children receive finally for all the years of teething, scraped knees, sibling fights, up-all-night ear infections, tears over not making the team, anguish over a best friend's betrayal, heart break from the first girlfriend, adolescent rebellion, all of the pains of being a responsible parent in an irresponsible world.

Welcome, Esther. Mazel tov, Virginia! (You finally got a girl!)

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