By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
Margaret Reed knows one thing about grandchildren.
“They sure do grow up fast,” she said.
For example, Taylor Marie Reed, 18, is graduating this month. Her parents are Scott and Tina Reed.
John Jarrett Reed, 16, will be a junior this fall. His parents are Tom and Karen Reed.
If it seems just like yesterday that these first cousins were adorable little toddlers, she’s still “very pleased to be their grandmother,” she said.
Taylor was the first little girl in her life. She’d enjoyed raising sons Scott and Tom.
“But she became our little princess. I loved buying all those pretty clothes,” Reed said fondly.
“Tommy, my husband ... he’s deceased now ... he just fell in love with her. She wrapped him around her little finger.
“We didn’t know what she was going to be until she was born,” she added. “I got to be at the hospital with them.”
Two years later, John appeared.
“We didn’t know what he would be, either, but we were just thrilled with him.
“They are just both sweet children. They are so important in our lives.
“Taylor has always been my beautiful baby girl.”
She calls John “my funny little guy. He always says such funny things. He cracks me up with some of the stuff. When he was little, he always said he’d be the first person on Mars.”
And they’re athletic, too. Taylor started playing soccer in kindergarten and still does. She will attend Fairmont State this fall.
She played on the West Virginia Stingers from age 11 to 16. The team went on to the USA Cup in Minneapolis in 2008 and 2009. They won the gold in 2009, Reed said.
John is the football player in the family. He has also played T-ball and basketball.
“His school went to states this year. They lost in the final game by just one point. But it was very thrilling to see them play,” she said.
They’re involved in more than just sports. Taylor was on prom court this year. John plays trumpet in the band and will go to Walt Disney World with it this month.
They’re both honor roll students and faithful church goers, too.
And they’re hard workers. Taylor works in a local day-care center. John cuts grass during the summer.
“They make such a cute couple,” Reed said. “They’re competitive but they keep it down. They’re proud of each other.”
They’ve been nothing but a constant source of love and joy and delight.
“When she was 10 and he was 8, they lost their Poppy when he died in his sleep,” she said of her late husband. “He loved both of them so very much. He taught them to swim, ride bikes, tie their shoes, things like that.
“After I lost him, I devoted my spare time to them and their sports. This last year and past fall, John played junior varsity and varsity. That meant two football games a week. Taylor had three games a week. I felt sometimes like I owned part of East-West Stadium,” she said chuckling.
She loves her grandchildren equally, “but they are so different. She’s the more serious one. He’s more fun-loving. They’re totally different yet so special.
“I absolutely, positively have no favorite,” she said.
She remembers seeing a bumper sticker that read, “Grandchildren are so much fun, I wish I’d had them first.”
Now she gets it.
“I feel that way. I love my sons, but with grandchildren, it’s hard to describe. They say the best thing about grandchildren is you can spoil them and then send them home, but it’s more than that, of course. We have just enjoyed every state they’ve gone through.
“Every step of the way, you think this is the best one. And then you find that each step in their lives is just a pure joy.
“They’ve filled such an empty spot for me since I lost Tommy.
“The best thing is seeing how they’ve grown, not only in size but also in so many ways, like hearing them talk about their plans for their future and knowing they do have plans.
“They’re just plain good kids. They’re just a joy.”
John is her “sunny little guy,” who can always make her laugh.
Taylor gives her the chance to buy all the “girlie things” like dresses and shoes and hair accessories she couldn’t for her sons.
They’re all part of a very tight, close family. Picnics and special dinners are just part of their routine.
“Grandchildren are so special,” Margaret Reed said of Taylor and John. “You won’t understand this until you are a grandparent. I know how my children were so close to my mother. Their other three grandparents were gone. I know how special she was to their growing up.
“I want to always be here for Taylor and John. I hope I have been because they sure have been there for me, helping me through these past eight years.
“There’s a special happiness you can have with grandchildren. How special they can be. I can’t imagine my life without them. I can never imagine not having Taylor and John in my life.
“I’m thankful. I thank God every day for them. To see them grow in every way, each stage you think is best and then they go to the next stage. They’re a little bit older and you don’t have to be as careful. You can step back and enjoy them in a different way.
“I’m just lucky enough that the August before my husband died the next January, we all went to Myrtle Beach.
“I would tell every grandparent to be active in their grandchildren’s lives. For those who have little ones, you have so much to look forward to.”
As her grandchildren embark on the next stage of their lives — adulthood — she loves to spend time thinking about them and going through photos.
“I love to think about when the picture was taken and remember something about it. I’ve been very happy to be there with them.
“I’m just very proud of them. I keep saying that.
“I would like to say to Taylor and John, I not only love you so very much, I am also very proud and respect you as young adults very much.”
Email Debra Minor Wilson at email@example.com.