A grandson’s birthday sparks memories

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

Our first look at this precious child, Jan. 19, 2015. From left, Neville and Trey, me, Kinsey and King

My grandson King turns 7 years old today.


King is the son of my older son, Trey, and his wife, Kinsey. They are the “Nashville family” while my younger son, Brett, and his family – Olivia, Cohen and Gardner – are the “Seattle family.”

They all hold my heart in their hands, so celebrating milestones with them whenever I can is important to me. King’s birthday celebration was Saturday, and Granddaddy and I were there to join in the festivities.

It was a glorious party, meticulously planned and orchestrated by his parents with special touches that made his precious face light up. Star Wars was the theme, and there was a balloon arch, Darth Vader

King, ready for the Vols

cake, pizza, Stormtrooper balloons taller than the birthday boy and a magician with live animals. Best of all for King was the gathering of around 16 (I lost count) of his friends. I didn’t go upstairs to look at his room and the playroom after everyone left, but I’m pretty sure I know what Trey and Kinsey did most of the next day.

The grandparents offered to get him out of the house for a couple of hours before the party, so Granddaddy, Gigi and Papaw took him to Cracker Barrel. His excitement level and nerves were building at an alarming rate, so I distracted him with pictures and stories of the day he was born and other birthday parties that he doesn’t remember.

I told him how excited we all were for him to be born, how beautiful and handsome he was and what a sweet boy he has always been. He laughed at his bald-head and then his long curls. He asked what his favorite toys were and did he know about Paw Patrol when he was 2?

I didn’t tell him that his birth was transformational for his Gigi. It’s probably best not to lay that on a 7-year-old.

King, at 2, with all those curls

I don’t know about moms of girls, but as the mother of sons, I didn’t visualize grandchildren. There was always the occasional “Wait until you have one of your own” comment, but I had absolutely no idea what my children having children would mean to my life. I thought I could never love anything like I love my sons. Then grandsons came along, and, wham, it’s the same all-consuming love and dedication.

The relationships between sons and moms and grandsons and Gigis are different. It’s nice to not be totally responsible for them. The generation skip gives Granddaddy and me the opportunity to spoil and play with them a little more. It gives the child another adult to depend on, ones they know – like their parents – love them unconditionally.

What hasn’t changed is the power of a happy child to make all who love him or her feel the world will be okay. A grandchild’s smile, laugh, voice on the phone, small hand in yours should fill up your heart every time.

My heart was full on Saturday. Happy Birthday, King!

King at his 7th birthday party with the magician, Rodney.

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons. Her newest adventure is as a travel agent with her own company, SGH Go Travel. Email her at sghgotravel@outlook.com.

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