When Jimmy Carter declared the first Sunday after Labor Day as “National Grandparents Day,” he spoke about the values and joys that grandparents could offer their families.
I always fantasized what it would be like to have grandparents. I would see friends going to spend time with their grandparents and, frankly, I had some envy. My friends’ grandparents seemed to share the same loving feelings of parents, but they possessed a kind of wisdom and even an objectivity that was refreshing. They knew “stuff” about my friends’ parents – like when they’d been young and silly. And they seemed infinitely forgiving and generous, ever suggesting: “More whipped cream, Billy?”
And then I’d hear stories from my own parents about the things my grandparents had accomplished. My Mom’s Mom was the only one still alive when I was. She was very old and distant, due to her dementia from Parkinson’s, and lived in a nursing home where she died when I was three. When her husband had become ill, that amazing woman had been forced to take over his business, a candy store, in order to feed my Mom and her brothers. Since she didn’t read or write, this woman invented her own language and mathematical system to keep track of her inventory! Remarkable!!
My Dad’s Mom was a political activist who worked alongside Emma Goldman! She had written a daily column in a national newspaper from the early 1900’s when “no one” was very interested in a woman’s political opinions. What powerful feminists I “inherited” as grandmothers! My grandmothers are women whose shoulders I am proud to stand on, creating legacies as well as each raising six children!
For many years, a Virginia housewife worked diligently to get this holiday’s designation. Marian McQuade’s primary motivation was “to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide.”
If you still have a living grandparent today – or your children do – you have a chance to honor them – today and every other day. You can still learn from them about their history, your family’s proud struggles and joys, your legacy. And if you’ve woken up today to find you’re the grandparent, you can share your knowledge, beliefs and unique brand of love with your lucky offspring!
Take a moment today to tell us here what it was like for you to be a grandchild and/or a grandparent. And what might you do today to make this day memorable for all involved?