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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)

TITLE: Time’s A-Passing
By Corinne Smelker


I wonder sometimes what it would be like to catch a glimpse of the future. If I could put my eye to a knothole in time, and happen upon a flash of what was up ahead, some moments would make no sense at all and some, I suspect would frighten me. If I knew what was looming, I am sure I would avoid certain choices, select option B instead of A at the fork in the road: the marriage, childbirth, the job, the moves, the things that seemed right until the unexpected occurred.

If I knew then what I knew now, would I have married Tim? Would I have had three kids, all so different? Would I be sitting here with little Jonathan on my lap, his blond hair tousled, one thumb hanging slackly from his rosebud mouth, sup-supping as the last of the tears leave his tiny body? Would I be listening for sounds of his bigger sister, Rachel who is meant to be sleeping, but whom I suspect is listening to music in her room?

Ever since Julie came back to the house, high on drugs, frame emaciated from malnutrition; and vowing yet again to change her ways, Tim and I have been the parents to these parentless children. Two different fathers, neither one of whom probably knows that they even fathered a child, from two different states, all have converged to bring these little ones into our lives, whether we chose it or not.

Would I have chosen to have Julie, knowing the heartache we were setting ourselves up for? Would I have gone through 36 hours of labour, only to end up with a c-section because she refused to come out? Would I have listened to lie her way out of yet another sticky situation that she, impulsive child that was, put herself into?

What if I had chosen another path? Rick instead of Tim? Two kids instead of three? Work instead of being a stay-at-home mom? A pastor’s wife instead of the wife of a banker? What would my life look like then?

Friends look at me and I can see the silent questions. “What did they do wrong that they have to raise their grandkids?” And, “Why don’t they kick her and her kids out into the cold?” Do they know how hard it is? I am holding flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. Tim and I may never get recognition for the role we play in the lives of these precious grandchildren. The State treats us like second-class citizens, if we ask for help they laugh at us; and give a stipend if anything. Foster parents get more. Oh it’s not about the money, but we are using our retirement to fund the expenses that come along with little ones. I had forgotten how much diapers, formula, cribs, car seats and everything else costs.

Unsung heroes – that is what my online support group calls us grandparents who take on the job of raising our children’s children. I don’t know that I am a hero. Given the choice between leaving the kids in the bug-infested, drug filled hovel, and bringing into a home where they will be loved and cherished, is there even a choice?

So, as I hold Jonathan close, comforting him as he cries for his mommy, I look through the knothole of time and reflect on the past, since I cannot glimpse the future. Even with the challenges I have faced, and the ones Tim and I will face, I am sure that my choices would remain the same.

Jonathan snuffles and moves in closer to my neck, damp breath hot on my shoulder. I realize I may never get recognition from friends, only condemnation and puzzlement. I may never get official sanction from the State; but I get recognition from the only source who in the end matters – my Lord Jesus Christ.


To the thousands of grandparents around the globe who take on the parenting mantle for a second time – thank you – you are truly the unsung heroes of the world.

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This article has been read 937 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Claudette Wood12/14/06
I sit here with tears running down my face. As a grandparent who daily faces the circumstances in this article, I want you to know you have said it as perfectly as it could be said. Thank you. And if I could go back, would I? No, I don't think so. I am looking into the eyes of one of the most beautiful little boys I've ever seen, who has just thrown his little arms around my neck and touched my heart with his love. Why would I ever want to give that back? Thank you, thank you. Perfectly stated, catching all the raw emotion of what we 2nd generation "parents" do. Excuse me, please. I must now go dry my eyes.
william price12/14/06
Your last line summed it up well. I know there are numerous publications this needs to be seen in to encourage others. It has an anointed to upllift and encourage. God bless.
Pat Guy 12/15/06
And there are those who would glady welcome this opportunity ... this choice.

Poignant and insightful. Top-notch quality writng.
Beth Muehlhausen12/17/06
Liked the "knothole of time" image - both past and future. This oozes compassion cloaked in availability...the most we can ever offer in response to God's great love for us.
Jan Ackerson 12/19/06
This is beautifully written. My favorite sentence is the first one of the last paragraph--just so sensory and perfect. *sniff*
Catrina Bradley 12/19/06
God bless the Grandparents who are Parents again. So well written, and so moving. My brother and sis in law have adopted and are now parents to their neglected granddaughter, and I've always admired them for their sacrifice when they should be enjoying being grandparents.