The Times West Virginian

Local News

June 18, 2013

JoAnn Wilson’s grandchildren are ‘the greatest in the universe’

FAIRMONT — JoAnn Wilson knows her grandchildren are more than special.

“They’re the greatest in the universe. I always tell them that.”

She’s talking about the Smith kids: Wilson Baron, 15; McKenna Elizabeth, 12; and Jackson Nicholas, 10.

They live just 3 1/2 hours away in Ohio with their parents, Michele and Martin, and visit their grandma several times a month.

They’re a blessing for her, even when they eat every single crumb of snack food in the house, she said with a laugh.

“It’s all good.”

When JoAnn’s husband Jack died, McKenna was inconsolable. The two had been very close. McKenna was his mother’s maiden name.

“I can’t cry anymore,” she told her grandmother. “I don’t have any tears left.”

“He idolized her and she did him. I think he liked her better than he did me,” Wilson said with a chuckle. “She’s the kindest little girl with a heart of gold. She wouldn’t say anything mean to hurt anybody’s feelings. She’s the perfect little girl.”

She’ll always remember when Jackson was born.

“Now, you don’t bring him around,” she told her daughter. “Two kids are enough. Don’t bring that baby around. I’m not watching him.

“But he wormed his way into my heart. He stays with me a lot in the summer.”

He has this nighttime ritual, she said.

“He likes to mix taco sauce and cheese sauce and put sour cream on top with a bowl of Scoops, and sit in the middle of the bed with his laptop computer and TV on.

“The next morning, he has the whole mess cleaned up. He is the dearest little boy.

“I can’t say enough about any of my grandchildren. They all have special qualities.

“Most grandmothers want you to take the kids and go home. But I’m stingy. I’ll tell Michele, ‘You have three kids. Let me take one.’

“They are absolutely the best grandchildren any grandmother could have. I thoroughly enjoy having them here. I miss them when they’re not here.

“I’m always bringing them into my conversations. I’m sure people get tired of me saying, ‘Let me tell you about what my grandkids did.’”

And what her children, twins Michele Smith and Michael Wilson, do, too.

Michael isn’t married but considers the Smith trio his own, she said. Living in Washington, D.C., he loves to have Wilson to fly in to see the Capitols play or McKenna to come see her idol Justin Bieber in concert or for Jackson to just “pack your clothes and come see me this weekend.”

Her grandchildren are special “in their own unique way,” she said.

Right now, she said she’s a nervous wreck getting everything ready for them when they visit next week for a while. The right snack foods are vital, she said. They get fruits and veggies at home.

“But if they want snack food, they have to come to Grandma’s,” she said.

She’s realized one piece of knowledge many grandparents share.

“If I could have had my grandchildren first, I would have. I dearly love my children and they’re very good to me. They call every day, sometimes twice a day.

“But my grandchildren are a special gift from God.”

You know how some grandparents say they love to spoil their grandkids but can’t wait to hand them over to their parents? Not JoAnn Wilson.

“I don’t ever want them to leave. I’d like to keep them all the time. But I guess their mom and dad won’t give them up,” she said with a chuckle.

“When they leave, I don’t want to wipe their fingerprints from the windows. I tell Michele she’s got three children and I have none. Would she like to trade? And she always says no.”

That’s part of the best thing about being a grandmother, she said.

“I look at my daughter and think, ‘She had that child.’ It’s such a special feeling. I can’t explain it.

“I would give my life for them. I’d give everything I have for them. I wish they could live here.

“I truly love them more than life itself. From my first look at them, I knew they were God’s miracle for me.

“It is the best feeling.”

Email Debra Minor Wilson at

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