How well do you know your grandparents? Do you remember the stories they told you when you were a child? Are you hanging onto the legacy they left for you?
I have wonderful memories of my four grandparents. My grandparents were all born in the first decade of the 1900’s. They were raising their families (8 and 5 children) in a small coal mining community when the Great Depression of the 1930’s hit. They were poor and hard working. Compared to today’s standards they did the unimaginable as they had tiny houses, without indoor plumbing, and many children.
My father’s father died at age 42 from a brain tumor leaving my grandmother a widow with 7 children. They did receive some government assistance and my grandmother did sewing and laundry (remember, no indoor plumbing) to earn a living. Later she remarried. When my dad met my mom he thought she was wealthy because she had a dad and he had a job as a coal miner.
My grandparents had many grandchildren, yet somehow they managed to love us all and make us each feel special. My dad’s mom made us each a handmade item every year for Christmas. My mom’s mom sent us each a birthday card with a one dollar bill in it. We weren’t spoiled monetarily, but we were spoiled with attention. Hiking, fishing, cooking, snapping green beans together, telling ghost stories, catching lightning bugs, eating, washing dishes, sitting on the porch swing, going to church, swimming in lakes, taking crazy drives in the country and exploring are the things I remember doing with my grandparents.
My dad’s step dad and mom passed away when I was a teenager in the 1970’s. My own children were 8, 5, 3, and 1 years old when my mom’s mom passed away. For another seven years my grandfather lived alone and then lived a few years in a nursing home. We would visit him at least once a year. My kids never enjoyed this visit, because they were bored. The highlight of a visit to see their great grandpa was drinking his little cartons of various flavors of Ensure delivered by Meals on Wheels. However, I treasured those visits because I was able to discover as an adult, who my grandfather was and not just who I imagined him to be when I was a child.
My children would complain to me about having to go visit him and always asked why they had to go? I would explain that we went to see him so that when I was old they would come see me. I said it rather tongue-in-cheek, but I genuinely meant it.
I desired to be an example to my children of honoring my elders. I also wanted them to learn to be comfortable around people of all ages, know how to be respectful, and help them treasure the elderly.
We have so much we can learn from each other. Just being together can be such an encouragement for all parties. The elderly have a lifetime and a world of knowledge they can share. They lived through events we can only read about. Just ask them and they will probably be thrilled to tell you.
It thrills my heart when my children and my grandchildren wish to spend time with me and with my parents. I love that my grandchildren want to hear stories not only about their parents but also about their grandparents, great grandparents and great, great grandparents.