Gratitude Doubled

Yesterday I experienced the most unlikely, most wonderful thing that has ever happened. I carefully extended my sanitized hand through the small, round opening in the incubator and, with my forefinger, gently touched the cheek of my brand new great-granddaughter, just 18 hours old. And then I did it again, reached through the small, round opening and touched the cheek of her identical twin sister, my second great-granddaughter.

I never thought much about great-grandparenthood. No one did. My great-grandparents were long gone when I was born and I have only vague memories of my parents talking about them, their grandparents. They were remote, to say the least.

But now, I am one, a great-grandfather and my new status has set me to ruminating – on, among other things, my own age. Unlike my great-grandparents, I’m still here, alive, well and reasonably active and healthy. And – I have seen and touched and soon will hold in my arms, my great-granddaughters! More even than with the birth of my own children – we were so young and overwhelmed that we didn’t have time to ponder and reflect on what was happening – but this time – the wonder, the mystery and the astonishing reality of these two new born babies, 4 lbs 9 & 10 ounces, fully formed, pink, squirming, occasionally emitting a quiet cry, having spent eight months crowded inside their mother Carolyn’s womb. I am filled to overflowing with wonder and awe and speechless reverence simply at their sudden, astonishing appearance.

Gratitude doesn’t quite describe it. It’s gratitude doubled, tripled, “lost in wonder, love and praise,” the hymn, “Love Divine”, puts it.

Thank you, Lord, for your gift of life, unearned, undeserved, pure holy grace, given over and over and over again, millions and millions of times, each time, each one an astonishing miracle – human life, a baby, a human being, in your own image, O God, a reflection of the mystery and wonder of You, Creator, and Life Giver.

So, yes. Yes indeed…

Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done…
Who from our mother’s arms
hath blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love
and still is ours today.

John M. Buchanan


  1. Alison Chisolm says:

    Oh happy day! I knew three of my great grandparents and they were magical to me. I trust your great-granddaughters will feel much the same.

  2. Jayme Staley says:

    We’ve never met but I feel as though we have. Joel and Sandy Mathias spoke of you often over the years and I discovered your writings when Sandy shared them on Facebook.

    I just wanted to let you know that I am quite grateful for your words. They manage to land in my inbox at exactly the right time.

    Happy Thanksgiving! Jayme

    Jayme F. Staley Vice President Public Affairs Triumph Communications


  3. Allison Youngblood says:

    John – I knew one of my great-grandmothers. It was special then and even more so as I have reflected on that relationship over the years. Truly a treasure – enjoy!

  4. Mary Rhodes says:

    Thank you John. When Edward’s identical twins were born the experience was indeed overwhelming by the miracle of it all and an emotional response of a different magnitude than my children’s birth. Congratulations to you all. With gratitude, Mary

  5. As a great grand-parent for two new lives, 7 months apart, I completely understand your sense of awe and wonderment. My own grand-parents were gone before I knew them, let alone great grands. I marvel at the fact that I am part of four generations and wonder how the heck did that happen anyway. Congratulations, and just hold them and love them. John O


  6. Kristi Peterson says:

    I am so thrilled for you and Sue – and for all who contributed to this wonder-full event. And I imagine that it is almost as awe-filled to think that your own child is a grandpatent. How wonderous and magical. Congratulations!

  7. Jerold Shetler says:

    I love your words and spirit John! As the grandfather of identical twin granddaughters I can fully share in your joy. These girls are now outstanding student scholars at Washington and Lee University and The University of Richmond. Through the years thus far they have committed themselves to social and humanitarian ministries here and in other parts of the world. The joy continues! Congratulations to you, the grandparents and parents.

  8. Barbara FOUNTAIN says:

    How wonderful. Congratulations to you and Sue. How could you be a great grandparent. You are much too young.

  9. Reblogged this on Views from the Edge and commented:
    As our way to wish you a grateful Thanksgiving, we share John Buchanan’s “Double Gratitude” reflection on becoming a great-grandfather of new-born twins in an incubator.

  10. Nancy Winters says:

    Heartiest congratulations.

  11. Robert. Foster says:

    Faithful to Generations to come ! Your bloodline is rewarded twice over !! Your cup overflows !

  12. Kate Kettles says:

    Thrilled beyond words to read this!!! Love and thanksgiving to all! Kate Kettles

  13. Edith (Edie) says:

    John, you said it so well. I love your words on being a Great Grandparent. I feel so blessed for now being one and it reminds me of two of my Great Grandparents and the huge family picnic in the park to celebrate this special day. Hugs

  14. Lee E Hakel says:

    We have lost several friends to death and with others gravely ill, it is so very good to have some good news. Congratulations and thanks for sharing!

  15. Susan T. Redfield says:

    Many warm and loving congratulations and blessings to you and Sue, great grandparents. Hard to believe. I am so happy for you all.

  16. Jeanne Bishop says:

    John. this is joyous news, beautifully told. I read this piece out at my extended family Thanksgiving gathering, and everybody cried! Happy tears, full of gratitude. Congratulations and love!

  17. bob and linda says:

    welcome to the the twin greatparenthood. we enjoyed having thanksgiving with our three month old twin greatgrand boys. you are right, we are reminded of our age but bless us with many years of enjoyment with our greatgrand kids. congrats and love from bob and linda.

  18. Virginia Tennant says:

      Hi dear John…What wonderful news!!!  I was moved to tears…you are so deserving, and how blessed they are to come into your beautiful family!!!   Love to you and Sue,  and all the family, Jinny Tennant

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