Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Saving Carolina

Jackie K. Cooper


A few weeks ago a friend of mine called me from South Carolina. He and I were in school together, but he was a couple of years behind me. Still we were high school friends and still keep in touch. Most of the time when he calls he talks about Carolina. She is his wife’s granddaughter, and nowadays she is their daughter.

Last year his wife’s daughter was in a car wreck and died a few days after it occurred. She and her husband had the one daughter Carolina. Shortly after her death, the son-in-law brought Carolina, who is six now, to Jake’s house and said he just couldn’t care for her. So my friend Jake and his wife Emily, who are both in their sixties, took on the task of raising Carolina.

It isn’t an easy thing they have undertaken. Emily has some heart problems, so a lot of the raising falls on Jake. He married Emily when he was in his forties and they never had children. So this thing of being a full time Dad is new to him. Still I have to say he loves it. Carolina is the apple of his eye, and she loves him with all her heart.

Jake says some time they are so tired by late afternoon that they pull down the shades and say it is night time. I don’t think they are going to be able to get away with that one much longer, but I can understand how tiring being with a small child can be.

I always tell Jake he is a better man than I am, but honestly I would do the same thing he is doing if I had to. You do what is best for your children and your grandchildren. If you need to step in, you do and most of the time you don’t look back. There is no reason to since most of these circumstances can’t be changed.

When my wife was working as the director of a church school, I would attend some of the events. She would point out to me the grandparents who were raising their grandchildren, and there was a good number who were. They were right there for school events, sporting events, whatever, and were showing their support for “their” child.

It seems in this age of two people working in a family, the grandparents have to step in. Children get sick and have to have someone with them, or emergencies at work require the parents to be there longer than they thought, and the grandparents have to cover. In too many instances it is a fact that the children have children and then can’t cope with the responsibilities. That again is when the grandparents have to step in.

I love my grandkids, I honestly do, but I would hate to think I had the full responsibility for them at my age. Jake is doing a great job with Carolina, but he must be in better shape than I am. I hear about all that he does, and I feel tired.

Raising children is a young person’s job, except in cases of emergency.

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Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events. Cooper has authored six books: Journey of a Gentle Southern Man, Chances and Choices, Halfway Home, The Bookbinder, The Sunrise Remembers, and Back to the Garden: The Goal of the Journey.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012