During a recent visit to Barnes and Noble, I came across a book titled Tell Me Your Story, Grandma. As you may expect, this book was filled with questions relating to all areas of Grandma’s life and included blank spaces for her responses and any photographs she may be willing to “donate.” If you made your way through this book, you would essentially end up with a mini-biography of your own grandmother. I know, it may sound corny, but I would love to have such a book, in its completed form, in my possession today.
Unfortunately, I no longer have any living grandparents. My maternal grandfather died when I seven years old and although my remaining grandparents lived into their 70’s and 90’s, I believe I was only in my mid-thirties when my last remaining grandparent died.
As I grow older, I often think about missed opportunities to learn more about my grandparents and their lives; missed opportunities to talk with them; and, missed opportunities to comfort them when they were ailing. While we may spend a great deal of time with our grandparents as children and teens, it seems that many of us fail to tend that relationship once we reach adulthood. I know I did. I will always regret that.
If your grandparents are still living, I hope you appreciate them for who they are, what they’ve lived through, and where they’ve come from. I hope you stop and listen to any wisdom they may try to impart. Grandparents can be a surprising source of advice should you need it, after all, they have experienced life, raised a family, crafted a career, and basically “seen it all.”
Given the chance, your grandparents may become your greatest supporters. They’ve already raised YOUR parents so they have survived teen angst, boundary pushing, and moodiness. They know these things usually work themselves out in the end and are usually less likely to go into crisis mode when you share your desire for yet another piercing or to drop out of college and join a commune. (Ok, that one might cause some issues…)
I had chances to remain in better contact with my grandparents as an adult but I did not do a very good job. I will never have a chance to rectify that mistake because, as I mentioned, my grandparents are no longer living. But, I can assure you, if William, Kate, Ted (my “step-grandfather”), Goldie Mae, and Ira Ned were still with us, I would work harder at maintaining a relationship with each of them especially in their later years.
As a teenager, I remember thinking that my grandparents’ homes were so boring; now, I could kick myself for being such a brat. I would love to be able to experience that house with everyone in it one more time. But, since this is the real world and not Fantasy Island, that’s not going to happen. All I can do is urge you to enjoy your grandparents while they are here.
I’m not trying to be preachy. I know that not all families get along. However, if you are fortunate enough to have any relationship with your grandparents now, I hope you will tend that relationship at every stage of your life and theirs. It is an important relationship deserving of your respect, attention and time. Enjoy their company and their unique perspective on life while you can.