Categories: General Date: Sep 11, 2009 Title: Honoring grandparents
Since 1978, National Grandparents’ Day has been celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day of each year, thanks to President Jimmy Carter and Marian McQuade. McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia championed the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped that children would discover the rich heritage offered by their grandparents and tap into their wisdom.
By Robin Scott
Grandparents’ Day honors not only those who are in nursing homes, but grandparents everywhere. Honoring grandparents may include taking them to dinner, or asking them to attend the school lunch hour with the grandkids. Whatever a family chooses to do for their matriarch and patriarch, a gesture should take place.
Grandparents have a key role in the lives of those children fortunate enough to have them. Many children lose their grandparents way too early and those who have them not only have fond memories of time spent with their grandparents, but a lifetime of wisdom and experience to draw upon.
A Dalhart resident reflected upon experiences with his grandparents that affected his life. He stated, “I grew up on a small farm, but my grandfather was a car dealer. He knew everyone in the county and often he would take me to work with him. I met Senators, the Mayor and other important people in our area, and they all called my grandfather Mr. and Sir. I thought my grandfather was the most important person in the world.
I came home from school one day upset because I had been picked on. I was a small boy for my age and kids were calling me a baby. That afternoon, my grandfather let me drive his 1952 Studebaker truck out in the pasture. When word got out the next day, I was catapulted to celebrity status with my classmates. By the age of 10 I was driving to town all by myself, something that wasn’t frowned upon back in rural Alabama in the early 60’s.
I loved my grandfather so much, and was raised by both my grandfather and grandmother. My grandmother could cook or bake anything and she was the center of our family. My parents had married very young and lived close by and I saw them all of the time. They learned how to be parents from my grandparents. My mom was just 16 when I was born and I attended my dad’s high school graduation when I was six –months-old. They had my sisters within the next two years after I was born. That second and third year of my life when my still very young parents were caring for two new babies really strengthened my bond with my grandparents, who always willingly cared for me when my parents were overwhelmed.
I used to race home every day after school hoping to get some time alone with my grandfather before dinner. He’d let me sit at his desk and it made me feel so important. One summer day when I was 12, my grandmother asked me to go out in the pasture and get my grandfather to come in for dinner. I found my grandfather slumped over near the back fence. He had died from a heart attack. His death was so tragic for me. My grandmother and I were never the same. She lived another 35 years after he passed away, and she never remarried. Somehow it seemed as though my grandmother and I were alone in our grief, not because other people didn’t love my grandfather, but because our love was so deep.
Hundreds of people came to my grandfather’s funeral and spoke about what a pillar of the community he had been. He was an important man, but to me he was the man who let me drive my first car at eight years old, and the man who always hoisted me up on his shoulders anytime there was something worth seeing going on. I still miss my grandfather terribly, and when Grandparents’ Day comes each year I can’t help but think about both of my grandparents and how they cherished me. I can only hope to be a grandparent to my grandkids that way someday.”
Cherishing a grandparent is likely learned in childhood as the grandparents treasure their precious grandchildren. Grandparents have far more to offer than babysitting services and contributions to college funds. They remember a different time in life that should be passed on to their grandchildren, and for some reason they have greater patience for their grandchildren than parents often have. They are a living legacy, and listening and learning from them is a gift they give freely, along with the love they have for their grandchildren.