By Valerie Fraling, Special to the AFRO

“Relationships with parents, grandparents, friends, and siblings were important to me when I was young and have remained so throughout my life. Our relationships with other people both shape and reflect who we are. These relationships are infinitely fascinating to explore!” Sharon Creech

Being a parent is very rewarding and challenging experience. There is no a blueprint on parenting; its trial and error and a lot of praying. Then one day you realize that God answered your prayers, and all is good in the universe you are now a grandparent.

The baby boomers owe a big debt of gratitude to the parents and grandparents; who we haven’t given enough credit to anyway, for giving us another generation. Steven Spielberg

Then God in his infinite wisdom blesses you with grandchildren and your arm is not long enough to pat yourself on the back. So that’s when your friends share your accomplishments since now being a parent has been rewarded with grandchildren and your title has changed.

This weekend after I left the swearing in of my friend Bernard Jack Young as the 51st Mayor of Baltimore City, I drove to Fairfax Station, Virginia to my daughter Lisa and son in love Gregory Packer’s house to travel the next day to Williamsburg Virginia for my grandson Matthew’s graduation from William and Mary College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology & Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health and a Minor in Anthropology. I jokingly say the study and movement of grandma’s old bone. Early Friday morning Lisa said let’s get up I pleadingly said can I have 15 more minutes. My daughter tapped my heart when she said, “My, I want to go early so I can start celebrating my son’s graduation” “Zing went the strings of my heart.”

William and Mary founded in 1693 is steeped in history but most notably it is celebrating the 100th anniversary that women were admitted to the college and the 50th year African American were admitted. Commencement speaker, actress, social activist and William and Mary graduate Glenn Close received an Honorary Fellow as did African American Denyce Graves a member of The Peabody Conservatory at this historic commencement.

Living for the weekend is honoring the grandparents of the graduates who beam and brag unashamedly about their grandchildren. My lifelong friend The Honorable Kwesi Mfume is anxiously awaiting the graduation of his granddaughter Kellie Camille Smith from Coppin State University, home of the Eagle and my Alma mater this weekend. When I asked what degree would be conferred the proud Pop Pop said, “I don’t know I’ m just glad she’s graduating.”

Longtime friends Salima Marriott Gibbs and Charles Gibbs traveled by train to be a part of granddaughter Summer Salma Jeanette Thompson’s graduation from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications Information Technology and Public Relations.

Longtime friends and grandparents Albert and Myra Owens Queen are packed and ready to travel to the Eastern Shore in anticipation of granddaughter Kelcey V. Oliver’s upcoming graduation weekend from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Finally, longtime friend Elvard and Rita Cooper are jumping for joy that grandson Kenneth Cooper is graduating from Loyola Blakefield.

“You bring me Joy” Anita Baker

Oh, by the way congratulations to the parents of the graduates for bringing the joy of our grandchildren into our lives.

The Graduate Congratulations to my goddaughter Jamilla Iisha Sutton on receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Criminology from Notre Dame of Maryland University.

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

When I received the call from Baltimore County Executive Johnny O to be a part of the interview panel for the new Baltimore County Police Chief, I had no idea it would be a history making experience. The selection of Melissa Hyatt a lifelong Baltimore County resident and graduate of Randallstown High School was selected the first woman police chief in Baltimore County. Congratulations Chief Hyatt and the future of Baltimore County under your leadership.

County Executive Johnny O’ inclusion of women in top leadership positions in his cabinet has not only broken the glass ceiling he’s shown that women can play a vital role in the community and set examples that yes we can.

Luke 12:48 Too whom much is given; much is required

Calling all Greeks to the floor, got some here but we need some more. When Diane (Artice) Bakers’ son Wallace wanted to host a surprise birthday party for his mother he put out the call to her sisters of AKA and her many friends to attend her 75th birthday party at Paoli, a Tuscan style restaurant in Foundry Row. More than 120 friends and family enjoyed the delicious food drinks and the camaraderie. Instead of gifts Wallace collected a monetary contribution from the guests to feed the homeless.

So sorry I was unable to attend the 85th birthday party of my dear friend Hattie Fields at The Morningside Apartments in Owings Mill. I know it was all glitter and glamour because that’s how Hattie sparkles. Many of you know Hattie as the Founder of the Howard Rollins Foundation named after her brother award winning actor Howard Rollins of Soldier Story, In the Heat of the Night and more.

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday happy birthday to you!!! Stevie Wonder

Wishing happy birthday to Alma Roberts, Michael McCann, Joy Bramble, Barbara Blount Armstrong, William “Pete” Welch, Dr. Marie Washington, Victor Green and my sister Clarissa Pritchett.

Get well wishes to Dr. Charles Towns and Afro Executive Andre Draper wishing both a speedy recovery.

“I’ll Be seeing you in old familiar places”