Why You Should Call Your Grandmother. Right Now.
Like most people in my generation, I grew up miles away from my Grandparents. Even though we visited yearly, I knew them through my parents eyes: Granny was a drama-queen. Papa was frugal. Nana was a worrier. Pawpaw was a talker. My amazing Christian parents did what every child in the world does– they developed a distorted view of the people that raised them. I do it to my parents too. My kids will do it to me someday. Because you can’t see clearly in the most complicated, one-sided, long-running, emotional relationship you will ever have. (And that’s if your parents were perfect.) In other words, I don’t blame my parents for never really knowing and appreciating my grandparents. I was too busy to call them and I, honestly, didn’t miss them enough to make the effort.
Then, I moved in with my Grandmother just before I turned 30. Our arrangement - she gave me a bed and I did her grocery shopping. In her, I found the inexplicable feeling of being grounded. She taught me where I came from. And how to sew. I learned faith on a deeper level as I watched her suffer through countless illnesses and still find joy in her daily routine. We disagreed on things, hugged a lot, aggravated each other, and laughed at the same jokes. I tried (and failed) to teach her how to text. And when she died, I learned what grief really felt like.
I learned that grandparents have the wisdom of ages. That, even with Grandpa’s lack of higher education and occasional racist comments, even with Granny’s emotional guilt trips (“I haven’t talked to you since last Tuesday!”)… they know things. Our Parents’ parents have the talent of storytelling and the grit of people who has lived through world wars, depressions, and hip replacements. They stay married. They are neighborly and noble. They can bake, cook, sew, build, fix, visit and garden better than we can ever hope to. And as they age, they show us our own battle ahead. And as their lives wind down, we feel the hope of resurrection.
I learned this too: Our generation is arrogant in our belief that we can do it better than they can. Our church services are better. Our causes are better. Our politics are better. Our parenting and marriage and sex are better.
And yet, we put our old people away in homes and we take multivitamins. We tune them out and argue about the ethics of war and peace. We read books about everything, but our families are crumbling and our friends are committing suicide. What can we learn from spending the afternoon with a grandparent that we could never find in a blog? We are inundated with information, but we don’t have wisdom.
The bottom line: If we keep alienating the aged in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our churches – our mistakes will be far greater than those of the past.