Port Gamble grandmother shares her story in new book | Kitsap Week

Port Gamble resident, Sallie Wagner Brown, shares an experience in the new book
Port Gamble resident, Sallie Wagner Brown, shares an experience in the new book 'Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grandmothers.'
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO

Just because your children grow up and leave home, doesn’t mean the parenting stops.

You may no longer do their laundry or make them eat their veggies, but core parenting values remain.

Ask Sallie Wagner Brown.

As a mother of five grown children and grandmother to seven, the Port Gamble resident still worries and mothers, although her children no longer live under her roof.

“And, I worry about the grandchildren as much as I worry about my children,” Brown said. “It can be more difficult because I’m not in the position to act on it.”

In the new book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grandmothers” Brown shares a  traumatic time she experienced with her grown daughter, Tricia.

At seven months pregnant, Tricia lost her baby.

Brown recounts spending time in the delivery ward of the hospital supporting Tricia as she went through the difficult task of delivering her still-born baby boy named Dylan.

“It’s cruel that she must be here in the hall meant for joyful people waiting for their babies,” Brown wrote.

A few years later, Tricia once again was in the hospital. This time, delivering a healthy baby boy named Evan.

The joyous arrival of Evan allowed Brown to write about Dylan’s tragic story.

“It was such a difficult experience to go through with my daughter that writing the story was a kind of therapy,” Brown said.

Brown enjoys the role of grandmother and describes it as freeing. It’s no longer her responsibility to do the nitty-gritty work of parenting. Instead, she gets to have fun with the kids.

“It’s more relaxed,” she said. “You aren’t the rule-maker or the enforcer.”

Although, Brown admits it can be difficult to hold her tongue and not give her children parenting advice. As a grandmother, she is able to see things from a long-term perspective, without being caught up in the moment.

“My kids are doing great as parents, they just aren’t doing everything the way I would,” Brown said. “I’m learning to accept that and realize it’s a good thing.”

She chuckles when her own children struggle with similar parenting issues that she dealt with when they were young. Her son lamented about his daughter who wouldn’t do her homework. The punchline? He didn’t do his either, Brown said.

Originally Brown, a retired English and French teacher, thought she’d spend her retirement writing science-fiction. However, she has found success in memoir-style writing and has changed her focus. With her large family, she has an abundance of stories. She said children are a  wonderful source and hopes to put together a collection of humorous tales.

Along with writing, Brown relishes being a grandmother.

She feels as much a connection to her grandchildren as she does to her children.

“It doesn’t dilute as it goes down the generations,” she said.

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