”GRANDCHILDREN extend their family’s dreams into the future.”
What a wonderful celebration we shared recognising the significant role of’ Grandparents’ – as witnessed by St Joachim & St Anne [Feast day on 26th July]. Soup, made by members of the Youth Group and two of the senior members of our community, and bread rolls, were served to all who attended the 6pm and 10.30am Mass. The young, the middle and the elder community members enjoyed sharing time together.
Some grandparent families shared with the community their joy as being ‘new grandparents’ and equally the responsibility they feel in sharing and imparting the family values and traditions to their grandchildren. How good it was to listen to the reflection of their families.
What a gift and a joy it is to be a grandparent!
“Tony and I are grandparents to Jennifer & Vanessa, Tania & Anthony, and Archie & Ruby.”
For me, being a grandparent is one of the greatest privileges in my life. It enables me to pass on family values, family traditions and stories, my faith and to extend unconditional love to a little one who needs nurturing. When I engage with my grandchildren as they ask, “Tell me about when you were a little girl, Granny,” it allows me an opportunity to connect my grandchildren with their origins and our family traditions. My presence in their lives provides a generational stability that gives them a sense of belonging to an extended family which shares gatherings and other experiences, just because we are ‘family’. Being able to pass on my faith story and allow my grandchildren to know the love of God is very important to me.
What an honour I had bestowed to me when Tania asked me to stand by her as she committed herself to her faith through confirmation last year. What a joy it has been to share my faith experience of meditation with Archie since he was 2½ years old. Sitting with him as he has a consciousness of ‘quiet time’ is always a wonderful moment to treasure. Hearing that he wants to share the experience with his parents when he goes home extends the joy of the experience for me.
How blessed are we to have time to commit ourselves totally to them and to allow ourselves to only get tired, after they have gone home!
How blessed are we to experience the affection and gratitude of our grandchildren in our lives. What a joy it is to see their faces light up when we arrive at their car door after their long trip to our home and when we go into their cots in the morning to get them out of bed. How lovely it is to get their tight hugs that go on for a long time, and to hear their little voices say, “I miss you Granny” after you have gone home.
Not only are we all grandparents to our own grandchildren, but significant ‘seniors’ in our community who can provide that grandparent type experience to all children; and especially to those who don’t have grandparents locally or don’t have living grandparents in their lives.
That’s a responsibility that we can all take on and make a significance difference to the life of any young person.
As grandparents we can be celebrated but …..
as ‘seniors’ we can celebrate the young lives in our communities.
When asked to reflect on ‘being grandparents’ I thought about how my life had been effected, and I came to the realization the major impact was the whole range of emotions that I experience from time to time when spending time with and thinking of our grandchildren. It is difficult to use words to fully describe these emotions but the experiences lived in the heart and mind are very strong.
The first sight of the grandchild brings a feeling of absolute delight. It brings about an awareness of self-discovery of feelings either forgotten from when I was a parent, or just a new happiness meeting the next generation. I have this very strong urge to hold and cuddle the child to ensure that I will never be a stranger to my grandchild. This emotion runs very deep – perhaps it is a primordial urge from the protector of the tribe. I watch the baby grow, sometimes from a distance and other times I am with the child. I always feel a need to protect the child from all physical harm. I have this need to ensure that all his corporal needs are being met – that he is not cold, not hungry and so on. I have an urge to ensure the child is well provided for. I do not want him feeling that he is in any way neglected. I also want to be involved in his development to adulthood. I want my grandchildren to share similar life values to mine.
All of this occurs particularly when the child is very young and cannot communicate effectively. It becomes even more delightful when he becomes a little older and can do so. It is wonderful when he comes to you and wants you to join him in his games and fun. I will share with you two such experiences I have had with two of my grandchildren that will stay with me forever.
In the first instance, Archie was 2½ when he came to stay at Easter. We live among the plane trees, and at that time of year they drop their leaves everywhere and become a general nuisance. Archie however, just loved picking up the leaves and carrying them around. On this particular occasion, he picked up the two biggest he could find and gave me one. He called for me to follow him as he held the leaf up in the air and we walked around and around the garage playing ‘Follow the Leader’ – Archie of course being the leader. We must have walked ten laps before Archie got tired of it. I would have walked another ten if he wanted!
The other occasion happened quite soon after. Anthony, who is 8, came to stay. He brought all his Bombers gear to let me know that he still loves the Bombers. He also brought his football and therefore we had to go to the park for a kick. While we kicking the ball around, Anthony asked in all seriousness:
“Grandpa, did you play for the Bombers when you were young?”
I hope I didn’t shatter all his dreams when I had to tell him that I hadn’t – I just played for the local team.
Both of these situations helped me realise that the grandchildren want my company and support as much as I want theirs.
Being a grandparent is wonderful!