A Family Reunion

Auntie M. and Marlaina sharing M & Ms

M &Ms
Yesterday Rich and I had the privilege of witnessing a special reunion between a grandmother and her granddaughter.

My Auntie M. suffers from dementia and lives in a care facility. Her daughter, Marcia, died suddenly at age 32 in 2000, leaving a five-year-old daughter, Marlaina.

Marlaina is my auntie’s only grandchild. Reared by her dad in Oregon, she had not seen her grandmother since she was six or seven years old.

My mother had been her sister’s conservator. Following her death, I applied to assume conservatorship of my aunt. Part of the legal process is notifying other kin of the application; this process led me, last year, to search for my long-lost cousin Marlaina and her dad.

When I phoned her father to explain that I needed send court papers, I had no idea what kind of reception to expect. He could rightfully have inquired where I’d been all these years. Instead, he greeted me with an open heart. We spent an hour on the phone as he told me about Marlaina’s life since her mom died.

Marlaina and I became Facebook friends and exchanged notes back and forth, learning about each other. A few months ago she posted that her paternal grandmother would be bringing her to Southern California this summer. We quickly made arrangements to visit while she was in our area.

Yesterday, Rich and I picked her up in the morning. After stopping to buy a bag of M & Ms, my auntie’s favorite treat, we drove to the care facility.

My aunt is often unresponsive when I visit her. She spends her days doing laps around the facility’s interior corridor in her wheelchair. Often our visits consist of me walking alongside her as she propels herself around and around the hallway.

Yesterday was different. We approached her and I said, “Auntie, look who is here. It’s your granddaughter, Marlaina.” She blinked. “Marcie’s daughter,” I added. Another blink.

Marlaina knelt in front of her grandmother’s wheelchair and said, “Hi, Grandma, it’s me, Marlaina.”

My auntie gazed into her granddaughter’s eyes. Her own eyes filled with tears.

When Marlaina reached out to hug her, she held on tight.

6 Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged;
parents are the pride of their children.
Proverbs 17:6 (NLT)