The Bottom Line
Pick up this grandmother book and prepare to be delighted and inspired. The stories detailed in this volume leave two lasting impressions. First, there are a million ways to be a grandmother. Second, grandmothers are immensely important family members. Both of the authors are professionals, and it shows. Lauren Cowen is an award-winning investigative journalist, and Jayne Wexler's photographs have appeared in Vanity Fair and People magazines. My only complaint is that the book's generous size makes it hard to carry around. I was so interested in the stories that I took it to the car wash with me anyway.
- Spellbinding stories
- Gorgeous photos
- A great gift idea
- Not a portable size
- Written by Lauren Cowen
- Photography by Jayne Wexler
- Published by Stewart Tabori & Chang
- 128 pages
I could hardly take my eyes off the lovely photographs in this book long enough to read the stories. When I finally managed to read the stories, I was glad I did. Cowen and Wexler present an extraordinary cross-section of grandmothers in America. They include the famous and the obscure, the rich and the not-so, the consummately competent and those whose lives are a daily struggle. Each one has a story to tell and a lesson to teach.
Those featured in this grandmother book fall into one of four categories.
- Famous women who are grandmothers, such as Judy Blume and Olympia Dukakis
- Grandmothers to famous grandchildren, like the grandmothers of Alicia Keys and Steve Francis
- Grandmothers who are probably unfamiliar to you but who are known in their particular niche, such as Adele Dolansky, known as "the Grandmother of Girls' Soccer"
- Ordinary women who are doing extraordinary grandparenting jobs.
I loved reading about Estelle Wheeler and the women of the Faith Temple Church, many of whom are helping to A href="http://grandparents.about.com/od/grandparentingissues/tp/RaisingGrand.htm">raise their grandchildren. One of them says, "I hold up my corner. She holds up her corner, and someone else grabs that corner over there. . . . We hold these children up so they can go forth and be whatever they want to be." At the same time I was happy to know that there are grandmothers like Olympia Dukakis and Frances Sternhagen, for whom grandmotherhood is only a part of a very full life. "Why are you always working?" one of Sternhagen's grandchildren asks. Sternhagen doesn't answer, but Dukakis does: "My work is very real for me, very much the focus." As much as I admire grandmothers raising grandchildren and others who are fiercely dedicated to their grandchildren, it's not the only way to be a grandmother.
Another of my favorites is Linda Davis, who is in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, who in her mid-seventies helps to run a ranch of a quarter of a million acres and serves as an active EMT, who knows everything about opera. She's such an larger-than-life character that her grandson says, "There's not one of us who wouldn't do anything for her, who doesn't know that we'd be lucky to be half the person our grandma is."
You can't make this stuff up. Clearly, truth is not only stranger than fiction but also more interesting, more inspirational and more heart-warming.