A Grandmother To All

Author: C.L. Harmon
Category: People
Date Published: June 16, 2017
Grandmother Betty Stewart (Yaya) sits in her chair sporting a red cover and bonnet

It’s a bond beyond expla­na­tion. One that revives a tired soul back into jubi­la­tion. In many ways, it makes the old feel young again by mag­i­cal­ly build­ing a bridge that leads to a play­ground where love and fun are the only rules. I believe who­ev­er said, “A grand­par­ent is old on the out­side but young on the inside,” per­fect­ly defined the def­i­n­i­tion of a grand­moth­er and grandfather.

Bet­ty Stew­art of Man­n­ford fits that mean­ing. How­ev­er, for Stew­art, feel­ing young while spend­ing time with her grand­chil­dren just wasn’t quite enough for her. She want­ed to be a grand­moth­er to as many chil­dren as she could. At 76, she had a life­time of life lessons and sto­ries she want­ed to share with everyone’s grandchildren.

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Stew­art nev­er had aspi­ra­tions to be a writer as she worked as a stay home moth­er rais­ing her five chil­dren. Lit­tle did she real­ize dur­ing those days that inside her heart was a cre­ative spark that would one day warm the smiles of her grand­chil­dren and those of oth­ers as well.

Stew­art recent­ly pub­lished her first book, ‘The Adven­tures of Milo & Pookie.

Grandmother’s Adventures

A goldfish sits with a Opossum seeming to have a good time on the cover of "The Adventures of Milo and Pookie"
By Yaya

The illus­trat­ed children’s book focus­es on an unlike­ly friend­ship between a ham­ster and a gold­fish. To avoid spoil­er alerts, I won’t write about their adven­tures. How­ev­er, I will con­vey that the book is an inno­cent and intel­li­gent read that allows chil­dren to learn the val­ue of friend­ship and work­ing together.

Ini­tial­ly, she would use the tra­di­tion­al oral sto­ry­telling method to her grand­chil­dren to con­nect with them in a lov­ing and learn­ing way. How­ev­er, influ­ence from a friend sev­er­al years ago prompt­ed her to put those sto­ries on paper.

“I would start writ­ing, and the words would come so fast in my mind,” she said. Her friend con­vinced her to get copy­rights and then to con­sid­er pub­lish­ing even­tu­al­ly. But before the pub­lish­ing came into play, she decid­ed to vis­it the local schools dressed up in what most con­sid­er the typ­i­cal grand­moth­er image of old, or as she calls it, “a granny in the wag­on wheel­er days.” She would read her sto­ries and the respons­es from her young audi­ence told her she had a real knack for the art of storytelling.

After her moth­er passed away, Stew­art felt it was time to move to Okla­homa and be clos­er to her daugh­ter and grand­chil­dren liv­ing in the Round Moun­tain area. That was ten years ago, she said. Before mov­ing here, she would trav­el up here to tell new sto­ries to her grand­chil­dren. It wasn’t long after that move that Man­n­ford school chil­dren also had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to receive a vis­it from a grand­ma with a sto­ry or two to tell.

“Those chil­dren love hear­ing the sto­ries as much as I love telling them,” she said. Although the sto­ries are hers, the illus­tra­tions are pro­vid­ed by her nephew, who resides in Ten­nessee. Togeth­er, they cre­ate a mag­i­cal world that appeals to chil­dren fun and inno­cent while pro­vid­ing valu­able mes­sages impor­tant to young minds and hearts.

“I nev­er thought about mak­ing any mon­ey when I start­ed pub­lish­ing. It was just such an hon­or to be able to pub­lish these books that I write for my grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren and to give them some­thing of me that they will have in 100 years,” she explained. Although the book does sell, Stew­art says it was and is still not about the mon­ey this book gen­er­ates. It’s about the sto­ries and the priv­i­lege to be a grand­moth­er to all the chil­dren who have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to hear her read about the adven­tures of Milo and Pookie.

“I would start writ­ing, and the words would come so fast in my mind. ”

Grandmother Betty Stewart (Yaya) sits in her chair sporting a red cover and bonnet
A wel­com­ing smile

The Milo and Pook­ie char­ac­ters came from her grand­son Jere­my who had a ham­ster and a trop­i­cal fish as pets when he was a small boy. He is now a young adult. Stew­art want­ed to write a sto­ry for him about those pets. That sto­ry prompt­ed two more sto­ries with those char­ac­ters who are cur­rent­ly in the edit­ing process at a pub­lish­ing house in New York City. Although She wrote the sto­ries sev­er­al years ago, Stew­art only recent­ly decid­ed to put her sto­ries in book form.

On the cov­er of this col­or­ful book, there is no men­tion of Stew­art, but only the name of YaYa as the author, which is a sweet mes­sage to her great-grand­son Dustin Andrews who address­es her with that term of endear­ment loves her sto­ries. Accord­ing to him, she quipped that he is the only great-grand­child allowed to call her that.

It is inter­est­ing to note that Stew­art writes all of her sto­ries by hand and says that she is very blessed to be so hap­py in her life. She explains that one must have child-like hap­pi­ness free from anger and hate to write sto­ries that will con­nect with chil­dren. Soon to come is the sto­ry, ‘The Adven­tures of Round Moun­tain.’ he has already test­ed its con­tent with Man­n­ford chil­dren with over­whelm­ing acceptance.

To pur­chase Stewart’s book, click here for paper­back and Kin­dle ver­sions. By using our links, you help make this site possible!

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C.L. Harmon

C.L. Harmon

C.L. is an award-winning journalist who spent many years in the newspaper and freelance fields. In addition to holding reporting and editing positions throughout his career, he also owned and operated a newspaper for several years. He was born, raised, and continues to reside in Oklahoma.

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