2011 GRANDparents of the Year: Mike & Nancy Conley
GRAND Magazine is pleased to present this year’s winners and 10 finalists, all nominated by GRAND readers.
This award is sponsored by REALforMe.com – Powered by Humana, 1800Flowers.com, American Humane Association and Mattel, Inc.
Introduction by Jack Levine:
A Labor of Love
Trust me on this: Choosing 10 finalists for the 2011 GRANDparent of the Year Award was no simple task. Making the decision felt like a long day’s visit to a wonderful botanical garden and being asked to name 10 favorite flowers of the hundreds observed. Each and every one is unique in its beauty and certainly a wonderful, one-of a-kind expression of nature’s bounty.
So it is with the truly fabulous field of nominations for this year’s award. Every GRAND nominee is a special person in the lives of their family and community, meriting special attention and consideration. All of us judges were deeply moved by the true stories of strength and compassion, sacrifice and passion, and an almost universal sense of service over self.
The nominators (list here) ranged from the sweet and creatively spelled words of a 6-year-old grandson to lifelong friends who have experienced the admirable character of their nominee for many decades. The tears trickled as I read of the struggles to cope with hardship — physical, emotional and physical. Some nominations provided inspiring insights into how the treasured wisdom of the ages is shared with the young in joyous ways.
And we read a glowing glossary of nominee’s personal interests — home crafts, athletic endeavors, artistic pursuits and history, all shared as a bond from one generation to another.
The common thread of every nomination was that love, freely shared without judgment, is the clearest expression of who we are in our finest days. This legacy of loveis what makes grandparenting such a powerful force for good.
We at GRAND express our sincere gratitude to all the nominators and extend our heartfelt congratulations to our nominees and honorees for who they are and what they do for others of every age and stage of life.
Jack Levine, Founder 4Generations Institute
GRAND Partnership Director
2011 Grand Prize winners: Mike & Nancy Conley
Nominated by Jeff Conley
“Mike & Nancy Conley have three adult children and are wonderful, loving grandparents to four grandkids. Recently, one of their daughters [Jennifer Conley-Bridgman] passed away in her 30s. Their 8-year-old granddaughter [Gracie] had moved in with them, and Nancy felt she needed to be home more to properly care for her. While Mike was already retired, Nancy didn’t hesitate to retire from fulltime work. Well into their 60s, they are essentially starting over. This act of self-sacrifice goes above and beyond the responsibilities of a grandparent and embodies love, dedication and putting the grandchild’s needs before their own.
“But it began long ago….
“As one of their children, I grew up with my grandma (Nancy’s mother) at home. I didn’t think anything of it. I just knew how awesome it was to have Grandma there with us. Looking back, I now realize the sacrifices that Mike and Nancy made. Nancy’s mother had multiple sclerosis and was confined to a wheelchair. They moved in to care for her.
“They have shown (and continue to show) what loving and taking care of each other looks like. They don’t question. They do what needs to be done. They give fully; they serve humbly; they love completely. They don’t do it for recognition. Which is why it would be such a GRAND surprise for them to be honored as your 2011 GRANDparents of the Year!”
2011 GRANDparents of the Year Mike & Nancy Conley responded:
“Being grandparents is the most rewarding career in one’s life. It is humbling to be selected to represent all who love loving and being loved by our grandchildren. We have been truly blessed.” —Nancy Conley
“Wow, to be selected is very humbling, to say the least. I get very emotional when I think about it. Our love is spread around because He (Jesus) gives us so much to hold on to. So we take some of this Love and give it away. Holding up day to day reminds me of the 10-finger prayer verse from the Bible: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Ten words, ten fingers.” —Mike Conley