Yesterday, November 23 2017 was Thanksgiving. As is typical for me on this day, my thoughts turned reflective. Like many past occasions, I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon sharing a table and a delicious dinner. This time I happened to be eating with a family I barely knew in Claiborne, Maryland. Nevertheless, the meal reminded me of many other family Thanksgivings. And I knew why my thoughts gradually drifted to my father's mother.
Earlier in the day when I had researched Mary Lane on the Internet, I found absolutely nothing about her...not even her obituary...nothing! That disappointed me as here was a woman who lived a long life, had a son who had four sons and but no evidence of her existence existed. Except for my memory and my brothers' her "nothingness" spurred me to write some long overdue appreciation.
When I was but 5 years old, my grandmother's only child, my father, often encouraged and escorted my three younger brothers and me to visit her in her quaint, little white brick home in Easton, Maryland. For her death some 5 decades later, we visited her. Whether it was for lunch or for just to spend some time usually on a Sunday post-Quaker meeting, my father showed how he dutiful son. He understood the value and importance of grandkids knowing their grandparents. He knew it benefitted both.
As child, I was fascinated by my father's mother. Her love of knickknacks and antiques were a. She displayed her miniature antique box collection on her living room wall shelves while making sure we underlings knew her house rules and respected her possessions. She would proudly display her collection and open their unique intricacies while reminding us they were not to be touched; they were not playthings. She also reminded us overly playful preteens to "behave" whatever meant m=no "rough-housing" in her sweet little home on Harrison Street. So in essence we were reminded to sit like quiet Quakers - whatever that meant!
My grandmother was also an avid bridge player and she taught us how to play cards. I always asked her how much money she won at bridge...her high stakes winnings usually amounted to 59-60 pennies. Profit was not the point of playing. The social interaction was her game.
I also spent numerous Thanksgivings at her house where she and some hired help always provided a succulent turkey with delicious stuffing. One of her trademark creations were bowls of sugared dates filled with peanut butter temptingly placed on the dining room table before the main course. These were used to lure us to dinner table. We were always told that they dessert, but inevitably a number of them found their way into our mouths before the main course was even placed on the table. My father would make a feeble act of supporting her effort to hold us back from consuming these treats, he always wore a wry a smile as he encouraged us to wait until after the main meal. The age old "you'll ruin your dinner" usually fell on our deaf ears. While these holiday gatherings of family were special in my memories, they weren't always the most comfortable of meals. But they were fun in some ways because we observed our father and his relationship with his mother. His example was in many ways a great lesson for his four sons. We got to appreciate family and the bond that our father had for his mom. Grandma lived until she was 101.
As a confident Quaker widow for close to 70 years, my grandmother loved the role of being included in family. She especially sparkled at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember her gift-giving. It was rather unique, if not generous. On birthdays as well as the seasonal holidays, she would wrap the same present for each of her 4 grandchildren. It did not matter if we all had different interests or that seven years separated us. As the oldest, I noted her egalitarian instincts and in some ways admired her frugality. The same presents for each of us every occasion - usually a tie and a $25 check! She would call her ties colorfully "gay", and I informed her the term had developed other more sexual connotations late in the 20th century. I enjoyed my grandmother. While she had a distinct and proper manner, I could tell she enjoyed bantering with her grandsons.
Grandparents might play a powerful role in the development of a child:
- enrich a child's life and love
- add fun experiences
- add appreciation for family
- appreciation for the older
- example for parents when they grow older
- additional wisdom and guidance
- support and help for parents
- learning more about adult relationships
- acceptance, tolerance,
- understanding old age
- learning and understanding family history
- developing more perspective about parents
- creates a model for them becoming parents
Grandparents benefit as well:
- makes them feel younger
- develops an appreciation for children
- develops an emotional bond with family
- helps unite family