Grandma is a girl's best friend

August 17, 2016
Grandma Faye is making a difficult journey a little easier for Madelyn and her parents.
Madelyn and Faye Andrews

Grandparents are wonderful for so many reasons. They give the best hugs, they always remember birthdays and they’re great support when times get tough.

The Andrews family from Lewins Cove, Nfld. knows this better than most. Aaron, Cheryl and their two-year-old daughter, Madelyn, have unexpectedly relocated to Toronto while their infant daughter, Claire, waits for a heart transplant. The family is coping as best they can, largely thanks to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto and two very loving sets of grandparents.

Claire was born in November 2015 with an underdeveloped heart. She had heart surgery shortly after her birth, and doctors said she’d require at least two more. In April 2016, Claire’s parents and sister, along with grandparents Faye and Brian Andrews, came to Toronto for her second procedure, but things did not go as planned. Claire’s heart was not strong enough for surgery and she was moved to the critical care unit. She required a heart transplant and her family would not be going home anytime soon.

“Even though it was hard to be told that we would be away from home long term, we were going to do anything we needed to for Claire,” says Grandma Faye.

In June, the Andrews family moved to nearby RMHC Toronto with Grandma and Grandpa in tow. Cheryl’s parents, Darlene and Clifford Grandy, arrived shortly after to switch off with Faye and Brian, a rotation they plan to maintain as long as necessary. With Claire requiring care at her bedside and Madelyn needing to maintain a sense of normalcy, their grandparents are helping Aaron and Cheryl meet the needs of both daughters as best they can.

The Andrews family at the hospital

“When Aaron and Cheryl are at the hospital with Claire, we are at the House with Madelyn, and vice versa,” says Darlene. “We try to all be here for supper, then mom and dad do Madelyn’s bedtime routine with her before returning to Claire.”

“We try to keep Madelyn’s world as normal as possible,” says Faye.

RMHC Toronto has many families staying here who are fortunate to have similar support. Faye says nurses at the hospital have noted the positive impact consistent family presence has on patients like Claire. And having just returned to RMHC Toronto for the first time since June, Faye has also noticed a huge difference in Madelyn.

“Madelyn has always been quiet and shy,” she says. “Now she’s like a little star! Everywhere we walk at the House, staff and volunteers are saying ‘Hi Madelyn!’ and she’s introducing me to all of her new friends. She loves it here.”

Madelyn with grandparents Clifford and Darlene Grandy
Madelyn with grandparents Clifford and Darlene.

That’s been a huge relief to Madelyn’s whole family as they try to balance time with both daughters.

“One of the most beneficial aspects of RMHC Toronto is how the activities and programs cater to kids,” Faye says. “If Madelyn is content, mom and dad can be content.”

While it’s unlikely that Claire’s condition will improve, she is stable and doing well while she waits for her transplant. She was just released from the critical care unit, meaning her older sister will get to come for more visits.

Regardless of how long the Andrews family is in Toronto, both sets of grandparents are committed to being by their side.  As Darlene says, “We wouldn’t be anywhere else.”

Leave a Comment

Dena Purdy Jenkins
May God be with each of you during this journey. May He provide healing, strength, love, peace, happiness and joy to each of you with lots of belief and comfort too.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.
cyber hugs to each of you.
07/09/2016 6:46:27 AM

It was so nice to meet your family at Sick Kids. You have been through so much but maintain so positive. All my best wishes.
Lily and Cale's Gramdma
19/08/2016 4:57:24 PM

Lucky kids to have so many amazing people in their lives! Sending prayers💜💜
18/08/2016 11:19:21 AM

Patsy & Byron
So glad for Claire, Madelyn and family that you guys are all able to help them. Such a nice story of commitment to family. Hope and pray that Claire is well soon and people will realize how important organ donation is for both young and old. Thinking of all of you every day!
18/08/2016 5:42:42 AM

Wanda, Martin & Baker Family
Sending the very best of wishes to you all during this difficult time. Hoping that good news comes your way very soon and that darling Claire will be on the mend in no time. So glad to see that you have so much support. Cheryl & Aaron, you have a beautiful family. Take care. We are all thinking about you.
18/08/2016 2:06:20 AM

Bruce & Judy Lomond & Family
Clifford & Darlene Our thoughts,love and best wishes are with you as you stay strong being beside the ones you love so much-We all trust in God that he will look after us all -Best wishes and take care
17/08/2016 11:57:53 PM

Paula Durnford
Hi Cheryl and family, My thoughts and prayers are with you and your sweet baby girl, hoping for a speedy transplant and recovery! Lots of hugs and kisses are being sent to you all! Take care! xoxo
17/08/2016 10:05:04 PM

Lori Holliday
Power to all of you to keep spirits up being away from home for so long! You all are doing an amazing job - hope to see you soon!
17/08/2016 8:13:54 PM

Trina murphy
U guys are so awesome Cheryl u are one amazing mom. Big hugs to u and your family.
17/08/2016 8:04:53 PM

Rachel, Carol & Mark
You all are in our thoughts and prayers daily.
17/08/2016 7:47:34 PM

Erica Hann
Prayers with you all <3
17/08/2016 6:40:07 PM

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