“Our grandparents’ house was our favorite place in the universe.”

We all remember the first day of school and the dreaded first assignment to write an essay about what you did over the summer. When Ashley Bond suggested this as a topic for my August blog post, I was actually overjoyed. I have a great story to tell!

The story began many years ago. I was married at 22, moved to New Orleans from Houston, and was immediately welcomed into the Levin family as the daughter Lil and Irv never had. They touched my life, giving of themselves in so many ways and sharing their love and support. When my children were born, my husband was a resident working around the clock. Lil and Irv were there for us everyday.

A year ago the phone rang and I heard, “Mom, I’m pregnant!” My daughter Lauren and her husband Tony were expecting their first baby, my first grandchild. Almost without taking a breath, Lauren then asked if I could come to California to help for 3 months when the baby was born. I immediately said YES, not quite knowing how I would manage it.

Sadly, Irv died several years ago and Lil 6 weeks before Alejandra was born. Lauren’s eulogy describes her special relationship with her grandmother, Ganee.

“When my brother Josh and I were growing up, our grandparents’ house was our favorite place in the universe. That’s true, and it meant much more than physical place. Though I’m far away right now, the love I feel for Ganee and the extraordinary person she was keeps me anchored in where I come from, in the person I strive to be and the family I hope to create. She gave me so much love, a sense of self, and a sense of home, and those things can’t be changed by any distance, even by death.”

I did make it work. I traveled to California before the baby was born and was there in the delivery room when Alejandra came into the world. I stayed with Lauren, Tony and Alejandra for 3 months. Getting up in the middle of the night, changing diapers, burping, singing and reading – I loved it all!

Although a number of family members and friends thought the idea was a bit crazy, Lauren and I knew it was right for us. Our bond is stronger now than ever before. It was a blessing for me to be able to share the lessons I’d learned from Lil and Irv —that there’s nothing more important than family, and that we must cherish every moment together.

I will always treasure this very extraordinary time.


Marilyn Levin and her first grandbaby, Alejandra, read Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Eric Carle.

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Written by Marilyn Levin

Founder and director of READ New Orleans, a program for parents and children aged 6 months to 5 years that focuses on fostering a lifelong love of language and books.


  1. Cathy Reyna says:

    Beautifully written, Marilyn. You expressed sentiments shared by so many of us grandparents. Cathy Reyna

  2. Nicole O'Blanc says:

    Now that I’m filled with tears…So special of you to share and I know that time meant the world to Lauren! You really are an amazing person Mrs. Marilyn! Don’t ever stop being you.
    Nicole O’Blanc

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