Memories grandparents make are a relational anchor for grandchildren. They remind us of our relational roots and where we’ve come from. They show us the privilege we have in impacting the lives of others for good.
Grandparent Job Description: Make Memories for Your Grandkids
A few months ago in Episode 141, I asked you, our podcast audience, to share memories your grandparents created for you. I mentioned the memories could be from when you were a child or as an adult. I thought it would be interesting and encouraging to hear stories like this. For many of us, our relationship with our grandparents provided a sense of stability in our lives. For many of us, they are relational anchors.
Holiday memories with Grandma
In today’s program, I’ll be sharing three of the grandparent memories I received from listeners.
Here’s the first story. It’s from Louise, a missionary who spent many years in China, and is now back in the US continuing to do Bible translation work as she did in China for several decades. She writes:
On your recent podcast, you mentioned having us share a memory of our grandparents. I only had one growing up since the other 3 had already passed. We used to visit Granny in Orlando, FL for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She always saved stale bread for my younger brother and me to give to the ducks at the nearby lake. It was a small thing but was always anticipated by my brother and me. She also made clothes for me on occasion. I just loved it since she was a good seamstress and made cute things that I enjoyed wearing as a little girl.
Granny didn't talk a lot but she always made us feel welcome and special whenever we visited. Boy, could she cook too. Her kitchen was small but the holiday meals she made were wonderful.”
Louise’s memory of her grandmother reminds me of a comment I made in last week’s episode, no. 146, namely, we tend to overestimate the power of our words and underestimate the power of our presence. As a woman of few words, her grandmother excelled at creating joy. The joy of doing something that would bring her grandkids pleasure – saving bread to feed the ducks, making cute clothes, cooking wonderful holiday meals. It brings me joy just imagining what this must have been like for Louise and her brother. The memories grandparents make are important.
Reading to a granddaughter thousands of miles away
The second story I’ll read comes from a retired missionary. She writes about a memory her mother created as a grandmother for her daughter. Here it is:
“I have a vivid memory of one thing my Mom chose to do many years ago when she, as a retired missionary herself, was back in the USA and Jim and I were now raising a young family in NIGERIA. It left an indelible impact on me as her daughter.
When Lisa, our oldest, was 2-3 years old, Mom sent us a copy of the children’s book CORDUROY. Along with the book was a cassette tape of her talking to Lisa and then reading the book aloud to her. Mom told Lisa that she used to love reading to ME, but that she was happy that now she could read to her granddaughter.
She asked Lisa to sit in her favorite chair and pretend she was on Grandma’s lap. She told our daughter she would read and ring a little bell when it was time to turn the page. I remember sniffling in the background as I watched Lisa snuggle into a chair and listen to Grandma read.
It didn’t matter that she was on the other side of the world. I prayed Lisa would always remember that kind voice and the time they had spent ‘together.'”
What if there’s little or no relationship with a grandparent?
After describing her own mother as a grandparent, our now-retired missionary went on to write:
“I wish I had had the Godly influence of grandparents in my life, but I never did. Growing up as a missionary kid in Nigeria without the later benefit of email, FaceTime, or phone calls, we were separated from family for four years at a time. By the time I was old enough to know my grandparents, they had either passed away or were too frail to build meaningful relationships.
Looking back on the cost of that loss grieves me. However, I don’t recall my parents dwelling on it. I didn’t hear them complain or even talk about what was missed, but I’m sure the reality was painful for them. It was a cost they had counted, a sacrifice that “went with the territory” of an overseas mission commitment, I guess.
I wish, though, that my parents had told more stories about them. There are glaring gaps in their histories that I long to know now.
“What I've learned as a grandparent”
As I am a little further down the pike now, I can see the importance of returning from Nigeria when I did. I finally could see that others could teach music, lead schools and mentor Nigerian teachers and dorm staff at Kent Academy. Others could support widows. But I was the only one who could be the Grandma to my grandchildren. I was a little too-late-smart, but I finally could see the bigger picture!
So now, I see the privilege of investing in our 8 grandkids. I see the joy of intentionally traveling to Washington, DC and Chicago to support these two families. I see the urgency of redeeming lost time and making the times count when we can be together. It’s never too late to start doing what’s right! And just as Jesus placed his healing hands on people individually, I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all in Grandparenting either.
We as grandparents must work to reach our grands and ask God to give us direction in connecting with them as individuals. As we lean in and listen to His still, small voice, I believe He will teach us and delight in helping us.”
A Rocky Mountain grandmother and a disabled grandfather
Our last grandparent memory comes from a missionary who served in the Mideast for many years. She and her husband are now in administrative and training leadership roles with their mission and are based in Florida. She begins:
“It was fun to think back on my grandparents and their impact on my life. My grandmother lived in Colorado in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. At the age of 70, she took up painting and became an artist! She painted Colorado aspen trees with the backdrop of the mountains as well as watercolor paintings of various little birds. She always looked for the unique beauty in everyday surroundings. Her paintings are her legacy. They reflect how she saw and appreciated the
beauty of her world. She taught me that it’s never too late in life to try something new – to take up a new hobby and develop a latent talent.
My grandfather had Parkinson’s Disease and lived far away from us, so we didn’t know him well. When we visited him at the nursing home, I always remember his hugs. He couldn’t really give us anything other than love and a hug and it left a lasting impression on me. Kids don’t need more toys or things. They need to know they are loved. Hugs matter.
A creative grandmother
My grandmother was an amazing, creative woman who loved to knit and crochet. To this day we have colorful afghans that she knitted that are perfect to wrap up in on a chilly night. As a little girl of about 9, I asked her to help me learn to knit. She got some needles and taught me to cast on the yarn and then demonstrated how to knit. I tried my best, I truly did. I made a square that was about 4 inches wide. It was purple.
As I proudly showed my grandma my creative accomplishment, she looked up at me with kind eyes and said softly, “Well, honey, maybe you should try a different hobby!!” To this day, I do not knit!!”
Creating a memory for a grandchild
She continues, talking about a memory she created for one of her own grandchildren:
“One thing I have done with my own grandsons when we visit, is to tell them I pray for them every day. As I tuck them into bed at night I ask them, “Do you want to know what I pray for you?” Of course, they are curious and want to know!! I tell them the exact same thing every time. “I pray that you will grow up and become a man who knows and loves the Lord Jesus with all your heart.”
Several years ago as I tucked Griffin into bed and we had this conversation, he looked up at me with ice blue eyes (and red hair) and in all sincerity, he exclaimed, “Grammi, I will!”
It’s been 10 years since that night and every time I see him I say, “Griffin, do you remember what I pray for you?” He grins and we share a moment and then he repeats my prayer for him. It blesses my heart.”
So what does all this mean for YOU?
These three stories remind me of the power and privilege a grandparent has in creating memories for our grandchildren. They remind me that it’s the simple things that count, like giving stale bread to your grandkids so they can feed the ducks. It’s reading to our grandkids. It’s showing them it’s never too late to learn something new. And it’s praying for them every day.
Here’s the main takeaway I hope you remember from today’s episode
Memories grandparents create are a relational anchor for grandchildren. They remind us of our relational roots and where we’ve come from. They show us the privilege we have in impacting the lives of others for good.
If you have any thoughts about today’s episode, I’d love to hear them, along with any memories YOUR Grandparents created for YOU. With all that’s going on in the world today, we need to hear more stories like the ones you’ve heard today.
Well, that’s all for today. Until we meet up again next time, make a memory for someone. For when you do, you’ll at the same time make a memory for yourself.
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