Call It What You Will

Elaine Mirimata Vaite

Cousins: Vaite, Elaine, Mirimata. Tahiti, 2004.

A friend and I chatted as we sipped coffee. The conversation soon tilted toward our children. As she updated me on a daughter’s family, she told me that she and her husband were instructed not to call the teenager who belonged to a son-in-law their grandson and that he was not to call them grandma or grandpa.

Then she smiled her wise, sly smile and said:

They can tell us not to call him that, but they can’t stop us from building that relationship.

And I smiled and mumbled something about covert categories and mentally smacked my forehead.

Her small statement carried big truth. One can say happy birthday even if one cannot say happy birthday, Grandson. One can go to a lacrosse match or send a gift or make a phone call without ever uttering any of those g-words. Since I’ve discussed the converse situation more than once before, as I yammer on about my beloved family in French Polynesia (it is a yammer-worthy family, I promise), you’d think I might have thought of this inverse truth. But no.

So, Friends, today’s message, courtesy of my wise friend, is simple and strong:

Relationships don’t need a name to thrive. 

And love is love, no matter what you call it (or don’t.)

I invite you to chase those words and see where they lead you. Because sometimes we’re blessed to ride the simplest truths to complex understanding. 

rabbit conga

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 3:18 (ESV)

rabbit conga


On Tuesdays, we’re talking about families and the joys and challenges that arise when we stretch across three (or more?) generations (child, parent, grandparent). Everyone is welcome, and I hope to hear each generation’s perspective.  Being family is by turns effortless, impossible, blessed, challenging, hurtful, joyous . . . . Let’s talk about it.

Please join us.

Leave a Comment