Grilled Grandma: Billie

How many children do you have? I had 3 children, but both of my sons are in heaven. My older son was murdered in 1986 and my baby son died from cancer in 2004. So my daughter, Susan, is the only living child I have. However, I have 2 step children ... a daughter and son.

How many grandchildren? What are their ages?
Well that is a bit complicated. Susan has 4 children and I THINK they are 27, 29, 31 and 32. They may all be a year older ... hard to keep up. They are all married, so I guess that makes 8, as the spouses are grandkids, too. My youngest son had 2 children, who are now 14 (a boy) and 6 (a girl). So that is 10 on my side of our family. My step children have 4 children, two of whom are married, one has just finished college and 1 is 14.We have 2 step kids on that side of the family, one in law school and the other out of college and working. So that is 9 on my husband’s side and that is 19 total counting inlaws and outlaws!

Any great grandchildren? We have 5 great grandchildren and another on the way.

What do your grandchildren call you?
My grandchildren call me Gram but those on my husband’s side just call me Billie.

How often do you get to see your grandchildren? There is only one who lives near me, but she’s still sort of a newly wed and also a neo-natal nurse so her life is very busy. The 14 year old lives about 45 minutes from me, the 6 year old lives in New Zealand (Her mom went home to NZ after my son died) and the others live at least 1 ½ hours from me. So we can’t get together every week like we’d all like to. But for the most part, we probably see each other once every month or two, except for the one in New Zealand, of course! The ones on my husband’s side are 3 hours from us and our visits are only a few times a year.

What is the best thing about being a grandma?  Wow. How can I begin? I once read that “A child of mine is twice my child," and that is so true. They are like having children to love without all the hassle and discipline problems and worrying about what they are or are not eating. When they were little and at my house we just had a lot of fun and games and love, but I probably spoiled them a bit, because a lot of things were okay with Gram that weren’t okay at home. However, I didn’t let them get away with being rude or hateful. I guess it worked. The three girls all came to live with me for a year after they got out of college. That was so very special to us. When they were all little, tho, sometimes the best thing was seeing the tail lights as their parents took them home!

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? Watching them make mistakes that they could avoid and wanting to nurture them and make everything okay for them when I really can’t.

Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud. I could entertain you all day with hysterical things my great grandson says and does! But as far as grandkids go, one of the recent things that really made me laugh happened one day when the 2 oldest girls and their kids (2 each) were having lunch at my house. Growing up, the oldest girl (granddaughter #1) simply refused to eat ANYTHING that was remotely healthy & rarely anything that her mother had prepared, no matter what her mother did. I think she somehow survived on chicken nuggets and rolls. Well, as fate would have it, her 2 little girls will just eat anything she gives them, while her sister’s kids just won’t each much of anything. So granddaughter #2 asks GD#1 “How do you get them to eat all that?” GD #1 said, “Oh, it is simple. You just give them what you want them to eat and don’t offer anything else, so they just eat it.” Her mother & I had to go to the next room while we about had hysterics. Wonder why that didn’t work on her when she was little???

What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? When the 14 year olds come, we always go to the movie, which they love. Since most of us live to eat, when the grown ones come over, that’s what we always do ... EAT! We just enjoy catching up with what’s going on in each others lives.

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house?
I guess it is about the same as when they come to our house ... eat and visit. We all love to watch the antics of the little kids and of course all the dogs ... I forgot to say that we have 2 dogs, 5 grand dogs, and 5 great grand dogs!

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits? We talk on the phone, we e-mail, we are on Facebook. I often send them a surprise when I’ve bought something that reminded me of them or I may send them an article I read that I thought they might like. I sometimes send their kids something as a surprise. We send them cards for Valentine, Easter, Anniversaries, birthdays, etc.

What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren?
I want them to know that the most important thing is to make certain that their lives are God centered, & to know that Jesus is all they really need because His resources are sufficient. I want them to love and forgive freely, to be kind, patient, trustworthy and to always honor their parents and their spouses.

What is one word you hope your grandkids think of when they think of you? Well, it is a sentence ... That I love them unconditionally.

Find out more about Billie by visiting her website, Billie's Health Connection,