When my grandmother passed away last Friday, it marked an end of the “Grandparent Era” in my life. She was my last living grandparent – my last connection to those sweet and beautiful men and women who so powerfully influenced my childhood.
My grandma’s death has got me thinking about the unique gifts and perspective that grandparents bring to our culture. So in honor of my grandparents, and all grandparents, here are TEN GIFTS THEY GAVE that the world desperately needs.
1 – Time – In an increasingly fast-paced world, grandparents see minutes and hours differently. My grandparents always seemed to have time for a game of Monopoly, a walk through the woods, or a long conversation sitting in lawn chairs in the shade. (The shame is, as we got older, we struggled to find the same time for them!)
2 –Priorities – This goes along with #1, but it needs to be said. My grandparents had a keen understanding of what things in life are really important. I guess that’s WHY they made time for those board games and talks. Grandparents have seen enough things come and go in this world to value time spent with those they love!
3 – Listening – Both of my grandmothers were excellent listeners. They seldom tried to solve any problem I described, but they were always happy to listen, and there was always a hug at the end.
4 – Encouragement – There is power in words. I have preached that concept from the pulpit more than once. Maybe it’s because of their age and experience, but grandparents seem to understand this more than anyone. I can’t count the number of times I listened to my grandfather brag about me to his friends as my chest swelled with pride, or the times my grandma told me how good I would be as a preacher. Those words mattered to me then . . . and though my grandparents aren’t alive anymore, their encouraging words are still with me.
5 – Singing – This might be unique to my grandparents, but I doubt it. Grandparents remember something that many younger adults forget – how to sing. I don’t mean singing with the radio or humming in the shower. I mean singing in the car, and in the kitchen, and while walking with the kids. I have vivid memories of the sweet voices of my grandmothers as they sung to us, and the songs they loved still hold a special place in my memory.
6 – Diet – One of the best things about visiting my grandparents – they had no diet rules! Want a cookie? A slice of cake? An extra helping of mashed potatoes? Good. Grandma’s got you covered! (And she still used real butter!)
7– Welcome – My grandparents are always happy to see me. Always. No matter what time of day; no matter what kind of day, when I walked in the door, they smiled.
8 – Unconditional Love – Along with that is this – my grandparents loved me unconditionally. That is so rare in our culture. Enough said.
9 – Pride – With my grandparents, every accomplishment was a big deal. According to them, my writing should win a prize. My singing voice is angelic. (It’s not). I was the handsomest, most-talented, most impressive person they had ever met . . . except, of course, for their other grandchildren. My grandparents were a God-given cheering section for life!
10 – Constancy – Maybe the best thing about my grandparents is how consistent they were. As I grew older, everything changed . . . except for them. Sure, they grew older and grayer and weaker. Their physical appearance changed, and so did the care they needed. But some things never changed. Their house always seemed to look the same and smell the same. The food always seemed to taste the same. And no matter how weak she got, Grandma’s smile never lost its sincerity; her hug never lost it’s warmth. As long as my grandparents were alive, the nine things that proceeded this one remained true.
My grandparents added more to my life than I ever realized at the time. So how can I thank them now that they are gone?
I suppose the best way is to take up the mantle and give what I have received one day when I become a grandparent myself.
What about you? What are the best gifts your grandparents gave to you?