Lauren Blank of Texas grew up with the support of her loving family. As her 16th birthday was drawing nearer and nearer, she felt excited with each passing day. Regardless of how it would go down, this was a huge milestone for the young girl. However, this teenager had no idea what she was about to receive from her beloved grandfather. Instead of a basic birthday postcard, he was about to give her special gifts for his granddaughters 16th birthday.
More And More Excited
Lauren did not have a huge party in mind, but she knew exactly what she wanted. Called ‘Ren’ by her dearest friends, she planned on throwing a small party with only her family and close friends in attendance. It was a special moment that she wanted to share only with the people she loved best.
Small Town, Big City Girl
Ren was born and raised in Keller, Texas. If you are not familiar with the area, it is a rather small town located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex with a population of 45,000. In one advertisement, the city said it “successfully balances big-city comforts with small-town charm.” If you were lucky enough to drop by Keller, you would feel the same way. Ren is a native of the city, and it is where she grew into the mature and educated teenager she now is. We bet her parents are proud enough of the young woman to want the best 16th birthday celebration for her. Despite this, Ren had no idea what was about to happen.
More Than A Decade of Planning
She had no idea that her grandfather had been working on her 16th birthday present for years now! He decided to keep it so under wraps so even her parents didn’t have a clue about what he was planning to do. Just so you know, she was completely blown away by what went down during her sweet 16. It was not an experience many people ever get to enjoy. The present she received was so special it left many attendees in tears! Although it was not your ordinary gift, it did not cost a fortune either.
Not Your Ordinary Heirloom
We know that many teenagers ask for expensive sweet 16th birthday presents such as a computer or a car. There is no denying the fact that the present Ren received from her grandpa was unusual. It was going to be something she found overwhelming for a good reason. Many grandparents decide to pass down certain heirlooms on this specific birthday, often something valuable that has been in the possession of the family for decades. Grandpa did not give Ren a piece of jewelry or anything with a high resale value. Instead, it was top-dollar when it comes to sentimental value.
Celebration Of A Close Relationship
The gift he planned to bestow Ren during her 16th birthday would change their relationship. It is important to understand this deep bond between the grandfather and granddaughter to further appreciate the story. They have been close ever since Ren was a little girl. Her parents normally brought her to family members instead of leaving her in daycare. When she was 2 to 5 years old, she spent plenty of time with her grandfather. It was actually at this point that he started working on the gift. How could he have done this under wraps for such an incredibly long time? It is simply amazing.
Special Time Together
Ren’s grandfather goes by the name Ron Petrillo. He worked on the gift because he wanted to honor the time they had together. He created a daily routine which involved a project for the granddaughter he loved so much. It was his preferred way of celebrating the memories they had in the hopes of keeping them alive. After all, she was still too little to remember that part of her life. Eventually, he told Ren’s parents what he was working on, although Ron only began to understand how important the undertaking was a decade since he started the project. Do you have any idea what it was about?
Memories Fading To Dust
No one was surprised to find Ren and her grandfather grow close in no time at all. They spent nearly every day with each other! Ron was so fond of those memories and he did not want them to fade into oblivion as time passed by. After all, he treasured Ren more than anything in the world. Since she was only a toddler, he was aware that they had a limited amount of time to spend before she grows up. That was why he thought the present would be a great way to keep the memories alive. No one knows what the future has in store for all of us, right? The question now was one of timing. He wanted to find the right moment to hand it over to her.
The Perfect Moment For The Gift
Ron had several ideas about when to give his beloved granddaughter the gift. In the beginning, there were several options he was seriously considering. He used to seriously consider handing it to her on the day that she turned 21 years old. Another option he had in mind was having someone hand it to her once he passed away. Every time they had the opportunity to be together, he kept working on the present. Slowly, it evolved into a meaningful project that would change her life forever. Can you believe that he was able to work on his secret project even when they were together? He later decided that he would give it to her once she proved something valuable to him.
The Pieces Falling Into Place
Ren Petrillo explained the condition he came up with: “I thought if she was straightened out and being a good person and being nice to people, that was important.” He observed Ren as she grew up into a mature woman. He finally arrived at a verdict. He knew it was time for her to receive the present while he still had the opportunity to witness her reaction. He knew it was going to be a better experience for everyone if they could all share the moment while he was still around. However, he knew only time could tell what was going to happen next…
Memories Of The Past
After spending a long time thinking about it, he decided that the gift would be more meaningful if he bestowed it to Ren while he was still alive. He wanted to see how she reacted to it. Aside from that, he also realized that she would react more positively to it when they could discuss its contents together. He did not want to break her heart, which was bound to happen if she received it when he was six feet underground. As you might have guessed, this was the opposite of the reaction he wanted to induce in her. He wanted her to feel warm and loved when she reads about stories from her early childhood.
A Long-Term Project
We are sure it was difficult to keep the whole thing a secret, but Ron did not stop adding more details to the gift. He spent many years working on the project and kept going even when he and Ren saw each other less and less. Still, he was fortunate to have been able to spend as much time together as they did. Have you ever worked on any project that took you over ten years to complete? Clearly, it was an important project for him. Soon enough, everyone found out why he worked so hard on Ren’s gift.
A Special Gift To Last A Lifetime
After spending the entire day with his little grandkid, Ron would sit down each night to write about it in detail. We know this does not sound particularly hard, but you also have to consider just how much time and heart he put into the project. He had to put his creative writing skills and knack for detail to the test. It might sound uncomplicated, but he clearly put everything he had into the gift. We bet he considered it worth it since Ren was going to appreciate it her whole life. After all, how many people do you know who can say they have the privilege of looking back at memories they were too young to recall?
Appreciating Their Time Left
Only a few kids have a special bond with their older relatives. We know that such a strong relationship can instill a good sense of family, although even such powerful bonds can disappear with the passage of time. Ron wanted to avoid taking those moments for granted, so he decided to take an active step towards it. He computed the math and found out he would be aged 72 by the time Ren celebrated her 16th birthday. Although that is not a very old age, he was aware that there was no way to tell what the future has in store for each and every one of us.
A Milestone Reached
Despite all the challenges that came his way, Ron did not give up on the project. Clearly, the present called for a lot of effort and time on his end. Nonetheless, he needed a lot of determination to keep himself in check and only hand it to her at the right time. The question nagged at him for years, and he finally reached a decision at long last. He decided it was going to be a good idea if she received it on her 16th birthday. It was an important celebration for teenagers, so what better time to give her such a meaningful present? Ron knew this was the best moment to hand her something so meaningful and powerful.
Coming of Age Parties
All over the world, different cultures and societies celebrate milestones to celebrate the coming-of-age of children. Girls usually celebrate it with a huge celebration, typically with fancy dresses and expensive food. A Sweet 16 is the most common way to commemorate this in the United States. On the other hand, those with Latin American heritage have a quinceanera when they turn 15. This is barely the tip of the iceberg as many cultures hold such celebrations with certain specifications.
Other Ways To Celebrate
For those of the Jewish faith, passage into adulthood celebrations are known as bar and bat mitzvah. Boys normally celebrate the former when they are 13 years old, while girls celebrate their bat mitzvahs when they turn 12 or 13 years old. Did you know that the Sweet 16 tradition has been traced back to the Middle Ages? At the time, young girls made their debut at court once they reach a marriageable age. Confirmation is the Catholic equivalent of these celebrations. Right, back to our birthday girl. She had no idea about the surprise she was about to get from her grandfather!
A Powerful Bond
The bond shared by Ren and her grandfather continued to be unique and strong as she grew up. It certainly helped that they still lived near to each other. This was how Ron remained a strong and stable presence in the life of the young girl over the years. Thanks to modern technology, they were also able to solve certain physical and social limitations between the elderly and the youth. As her 16th birthday celebration drew closer and closer, Ren still had zero clues about what was in store for her.
All The Treasured Moments
As we already know, the gift from her grandfather took him years to create. How impressive is it that he followed through with such a special idea, all without the notice of the would-be receiver? She had no idea at the time, but it was going to be a birthday gift for the history books. As time went on, their relationship naturally changed. This was primarily because she now had to attend school, which meant they had less time to spend together. Ron, of course, hoped that all his efforts would pay off in the end.
The Perfect Time At Long Last
It was in March 2017 that Ren finally had her 16th birthday party. That is correct – at long last, Ron could now hand his beloved granddaughter the gift he worked on so hard and so long. Ren still had no idea what was up her grandfather’s sleeve, which would only compound the impact of the project on her. The moment she unwrapped the present, she felt a bit confused about what she was looking at. In her hands, she had three spiral notebooks with the labels ‘Lauren book 1, 2 and 3’. At the time, Ren still had no idea what was unraveling right before her eyes, but it would only take a couple of seconds to clear things up.
A Link To Their Special Past
Ren stared at these three notebooks with a puzzled look on her face. We bet she was baffled by what was happening, though she eventually found out that this was a moment brought about by an extraordinary act of love. After the initial confusion, she felt curiosity blossom in her as soon as she began to go through the pages. She noticed that the content of the notebooks had been addressed to her and written in ink. After several minutes of leafing through it, she still did not know what was going on.
What The Notebooks Mean
She remained clueless about the gift she was holding even when she went through the first page. When she got to the very first sentence of the notebook, her grandfather beamed at her proudly. He observed her patiently as she took in what it said. She soon felt her emotions rise up through her body, though it still took her several more pages before the truth dawned upon her. We bet that Ron Petrillo experienced a difficult time keeping his emotions in check when she realized exactly what was happening.
The Very First Entry
The very first notebook entry was written in ink, but the handwriting was instantly familiar to Ren. The entries began with the following words: “Hi Lauren: I’m just starting this so someday you might read it for fun. It’s going to be a day-to-day record of you and me.” Who would have thought that her grandfather actually documented everything by hand? Ron continued to add more stuff to the notebooks every time they got to spend the day together. As anyone could see, the endeavor required a lot of work but even he had no idea just how much impact it would have on everyone in the room. Every other member of the family looked on in anticipation as the birthday celebrant continued reading.
The Big Revelation
Ron actually wrote down the dates of all the entries in the notebooks. It all started on February 13, 2003. That was when he began to document all of the days they had together. Back then, she was only a two-year-old girl. Everything that the notebooks continued impressed every person in the room. She found out her grandfather did not want her to forget about the time they spent together. Ron only wanted to make sure that there was going to be a reference point if she ever wanted to go back to those days. As she continued reading, she realized exactly how much memories she lost over the years.
More Than She Ever Knew
Her grandfather explained how he wanted Ren to have the chance to relive the days long past, which is how he came up with the notebooks. He was right when he thought she was far too young to recall those days. Ron began to take care of the little girl from the time she was two years old until she was old enough to be shipped off to kindergarten at the age of five. When she started attending school, he no longer had any entries to add as they no longer saw each other on a day-to-day basis. Despite this, the entries he made in the notebooks brought tears to her eyes.
Memories Coming To The Surface
Within those three years, Ron was able to collect enough material to fill up three whole notebooks full of the time they had. Ron still boasts of vivid recollection of the days long past, but Ren could not say the same thing for herself. As she continued to read the pages that detailed how those days went down, she realized how little she remembered about her preschool days all of a sudden. No matter how hard her grandfather worked on it, he had no idea the modest gift would cause her memories to resurface!
See Ya, Grandpa
Of course, he did not really remember every single story he put in those three notebooks. However, there was a specific story about the two-year-old version of herself that Ren instantly remembered after reading about it in the notebooks. It was about a certain game that she liked to play when she was younger. It was called “see ya”, and involved her grandfather doing whatever silly thing he could think of in the hope of making her laugh. Isn’t that the cutest thing you have ever heard? “He used to do this ‘See Ya’ game, and he would run into the wall over and over and over and I would die,” she explained.
That’s Not An Alligator
Apart from this, there was another old memory that came to the surface. It was about a trip they took to the department store. They rode the elevator and Ren was completely captive by the whole experience! As a matter of fact, she was so amazed that she asked Ron to go up and down multiple times. She also recalled how she used to call the contraption an “alligator” back then. Understandably, she felt overwhelmed by the sudden wave of emotions as all the adorable and hilarious moments resurfaced. Apparently, they were not able to do a lot of shopping on that fateful day, but they certainly had a blast riding the “alligator” up and down to their heart’s desire. Ren already felt emotional at that point, but there were more memories she was about to remember.
More Treasures To Be Found
As she kept reading those notebook entries, Ren discovered some more amazing stories during the time she and her grandfather had together. Clearly, Ron’s plan worked because she was able to recall yet another lovely memory because of the gift. This one was about a game the two of them enjoyed playing. This was how her grandfather talked about it: “One of your favorite things is for me to push the button on your clock and do my silly dance. When I say ‘Lauren do it,’ you sit in your bed and say ‘papa’ and I keep dancing, falling, running into the wall, turning around like an uncoordinated fat ballerina, and you keep laughing.” When she finished reading the notebooks, the young woman could not help her emotions.
The Good Ol’ Days
Needless to say, the teenager was completely dumbfounded by such an amazing and thoughtful gift. She had no idea how he was able to write everything down the whole time and still take care of her! Ren had no recollections of his multi-tasking whenever she stayed with him. Apparently, he used to park Ren in front of the TV set while he attended to other things. According to her grandfather, he usually worked on the notebooks whenever she was asleep and taking her afternoon nap. This was when she realized how amazing it was for him to do this.
The Best Gift Ever
It does not take a genius to figure out when you have received an amazing gift, and Ren was no different. She could not hold back her emotions as she went through the notebook that detailed the past she could hardly remember. There is no denying the fact that it was the greatest gift she ever got. While many Sweet 16 celebrants received gadgets and cars, she was able to receive a taste of the history she and her grandfather shared. As she continued reading the stories from those days, she began recalling more and more memories!
The Visits To The Zoo
There were a couple of entries that completely stood out to her as she took a stroll down memory lane. When Ren was a little girl, Ron liked to bring her to the zoo. She adored those visits because there was nothing she liked more than to watch the animals. “The rescue zoo — we’d go there every day except Monday, when they were closed,” Ron recounted to Today. He added, “And we’d go look at all the stuff, and then I’d buy her every trinket in the gift shop.” What the young woman chose to do with the spectacular gift made a huge impact as well.
Three Years’ Worth Of Memories
Overall, her grandfather jotted down an impressive 185 handwritten pages to tell the story of those three special years. Each story that you will find in the notebooks is as moving and emotional as the one that came before it. Sadly, it all came to an end when she turned five. This was because it was time for Ren to go to school, which meant there was no longer any need to drop her off with him every day. Still, she was lucky to have experienced three whole years with her loving grandfather. Thanks to his gift, she no longer has any problems thinking back to the days they had together. That’ not all, however.
Future To-Do List
Ren took to Twitter to post photos of the three notebooks her grandfather had given her. To no one’s surprise, people began sharing! The post was retweeted 160,000 times, but it will likely increase some more. The gift had a large impact on her, so she is now planning to do something similar for her own progenies. The young woman said, “I’ve had so much feedback from other kids my age who say they want to get closer to their grandparents. Or, it’s been a real eye-opener for them to appreciate their grandparents while they are still here. I truly don’t think that I will ever have a gift that is greater than this.”
Saving Money And Then Some
Considering how bad the economy is at the moment, many families in the United States try to cut costs wherever they could. This is why many family members try to ease the burden by offering to take care of the little ones while the parents are at work during the day. We all know how expensive childcare gets with every passing year. Luckily, the elderly members of the family typically have more free time, so they could take care of the grandkids while their parents are not around. Apparently, there are more benefits to this than just saving money! As we now know, it is an excellent way for family members to form amazing bonds!