If one of your grandchild’s parents died suddenly, would you be able to step in and fill their role?
Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt did exactly that when their 38-year old daughter, Amy, collapsed and died from an asymptomatic heart condition while working out on her treadmill. Amy was a gifted doctor, wife, and mother of three children, aged 6, 4, and 1. On the day of her death, December 8, 2007, Roger and Ginny drove from their home in Quogue, New York to Bethesda, Maryland where their son-in-law, Harris and his three children were in a state of shock.
The next morning, six-year old Jessie asked her grandparents how long they were staying and Roger answered, “Forever.”
Rosenblatt has written a poignant memoir of their first year together titled Making Toast: A Family Story, which refers to the one daily household duty he has mastered: preparing the morning toast perfectly to each child’s liking.
His book touched me deeply with both heartbreaking and uplifting images of two devoted grandparents grieving over the loss of their beloved daughter while attempting to create a role for themselves between grandparents and parents. Rosenblatt’s spare yet elegant prose captures each family member so vividly that by the end of the book I felt as if I knew them. He has an uncanny ability to remember detailed conversations with his three grandchildren that show his sophisticated and imaginative sense of humor.
Roger and Ginny, known as Boppo and Mimi to their grandchildren, quickly reaquaint themselves to the world of small children and Mimi becomes a surrogate mom to the children.
Their lives are richly textured and filled with interesting and compassionate people who provide ongoing comfort to the family. Roger continues teaching English and Writing at Stony Brook University, commuting there once a week. Ginny slips into all the roles her daughter would have been doing: making school lunches, driving the children to all of their activities, helping with their homework, setting up playdates, and attending school events.
At the end of the book, Roger admits that he’s led a charmed life and always believed that good things would simply befall him. What he learns is something he realizes most people know at a much younger age—life is to be endured, and its rewards earned.