We call them “The Grands” and we have six of them! Three girls, three boys. A nice even split ages three to twenty. Yes, I’m talking about our grandchildren. I always felt a special tug of love for each of The Grands but didn’t realize how enormously fortunate we were until the birth of our sixth grandchild and third granddaughter. We had driven to Michigan for the high school graduation of our oldest grandson. His mother, my oldest daughter, was nine months pregnant and the newcomer dutifully held off a day before sending her mother into labor the day after graduation.

That day also happened to be my and Martin’s wedding anniversary. The graduate had already disappeared on a one day mystery class trip some very smart parents arrange each year to keep their grads from going out and doing something stupid post-graduation. So, as our daughter went into labor early morning and she and our son-in-law went to the hospital, we gathered up the remaining three, fed them breakfast and headed for the local zoo. The SUV carried a full load as Martin’s parents were also with us. We had fun keeping everyone occupied but as the day wore on, I checked in with our daughter on her progress. Short, easy labors run in my family and she always followed the familial pattern. And, sure enough, late afternoon, I answered my cell to, “Well, bring my kids to meet their new sister!”

We all reached the hospital and swarmed into the room just in time to see the new arrival getting cleaned up as she exercised her lungs. As I thought my heart would burst with joy one of the attending nurses asked me how many grandchildren we had. I proudly announced this was our sixth born on our wedding anniversary. A look I can only describe as envy, sadness and wistfulness passed over her face as she related how she only had one child and he and his wife had decided not to have children. Knowing what a special bond we have with The Grands, I felt a pang of sadness for this woman. Looking around the room, she told me what a beautiful family I had. In that moment, I realized how blessed I was to receive the gift of not just one, but six grandchildren.

Despite the 748 mile distance between us and five of The Grands, we have a close bond with all the kids. Our youngest daughter lives nearby so we see her little boy quite often. He spends time with me in the garden and time with Papa in the garage working on bicycle, motorcycle, tractor and car. Every year around July 4th our oldest daughter visits bringing the entire family together for some summer fun like fireworks and a visit to the beach. For the third year in a row, the two middle children will stay for Grandma and Papa’s Summer Camp where we’ll visit Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, Chimney Rock and DuPont State Parks (Hunger Games was filmed there), go to the local science center, spend a day at the water park tubing down the giant water way, doing crafts like tie dying t-shirts and cooking up some great dinners. We hope this is creating memories of a lifetime and we know it creates the special bond between us and The Grands.

While I don’t think anyone should have children just for the sake of having them or giving Mom and Dad grandkids, I still can’t help but think of the nurse sometimes and hope her son and daughter-in-law change their mind. Because, there’s nothing more special than The Grands.