Check it out: Grandparents play crucial role

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Review

“Making Toast: A Family Story” By Roger Rosenblatt; Ecco, 166 pages

Did you know that today is Grandparents' Day? Since it's not as well known (or as well marketed) as Mother's Day and Father's Day, I was surprised to learn that it has been an official U.S. secular holiday since 1978.

I like the idea of a day dedicated to grandparents, but I hope that grandchildren everywhere take the time to express their love and appreciation for their grandmothers and grandfathers throughout the year. For many of us, we wouldn't be who we are today without their love and guidance. My grandparents have been gone a long time, but I think of them often. I truly wish I could still pop in for a visit and let them know how I'm doing.

Among the many amazing things that grandparents sometimes take on is parenting their grandchildren. This is what happened to Roger Rosenblatt and his wife in this week's book, "Making Toast." When their 38-year-old daughter suddenly collapsed and died from an asymptomatic heart condition, the Rosenblatts immediately left their home on Long Island to move in with their son-in-law and three grandchildren in Maryland.

Mourning the loss of their daughter while helping their son-in-law, a hand surgeon, raise his children -- ages 7, 5 and 20 months -- meant a bittersweet commingling of grief and joy. They had just lost their beautiful daughter -- a pediatrician, mother, and wife. Now they had to reacquaint themselves with the daily activities of young children, learning which winter coat is the oldest child's favorite, which cereal to give the middle child for breakfast. Even talking toys re-entered the picture, becoming part of the background soundtrack to their rearranged lives.

If you read this tender, lovely memoir, you'll understand just how powerful familial love can be. Every day there are grandparents doing ordinary things under extraordinary circumstances with no fanfare, just quietly doing what needs to be done. Love is their motivation, and we should celebrate and honor them, not just today but always.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.