Grandparents and Grandchildren

When Lives were affected in a Good Way

My brother and I would spend a week there each summer. We’d walk uptown to Max’s store and buy some candy; then we’d go to the grocery store with a list my grandmother had prepared, and in the evenings, after my grandfather returned home from the lumber yard, we’d toss a ball back and forth to him before supper, and then afterwards we’d all sit outside under the big old buckeye tree. My grandmother would catch fireflies in her hands, and in this small town where everybody knew everybody, my grandparents would wave as neighbors went by.

We always went to the truck stop for supper once during the week, and to Woolworth’s one afternoon, and there we’d also run into people they knew. Our grandparents were always with us for holidays, birthdays, graduations, weddings, the good, the bad and the ordinary times. They lived well into their 80s before succumbing to illness and death. Our comfort will always be that we have hundreds of pictures and vivid memories.

I can still, to this day, hear their voices, recall their familiar phrases and laughter, and envision their mannerisms and physical characteristics. I will always remember my grandmother’s fabulous cooking and my grandfather’s clever wit. I miss them; but we were lucky.

It is a story that could have been told by anyone in any city, town, or village, anywhere in the world. With a few variations, it could have taken place during any century.

When the core family unit is diminished through the breakup of the marriage, many people lose. The extremes in twenty-first century life seem to be that the grandparents find themselves either taking significant responsibility for grandchildren, or they are completely left out of their lives. The circumstances, in many cases, seem to be all or nothing.

Too Much of a Good Thing

The elderly man was at the door of the church picking up some bags of groceries that would help feed the three grandchildren left in his and his wife’s care. His daughter was busy working, and her husband had left her.

They were together for thirteen years; who’d have ever thought that he would abandon his family. He pays more attention to his girlfriend’s kids than he does his own. he exclaims. Can you imagine that? Sadly, it does not have to be imagined; it is a reality.

But, in a way, these children are fortunate. At least they will have memories of their grandparents; vivid ones that will last a lifetime. They will recall how these saintly people helped them in their time of need. They will remember the times, good and bad, and they will be grateful for the memories.

However, consider the affect this has on the grandparents’ lives. They find themselves raising a second family, and perhaps their plans for retirement and extended travel will have to be shelved indefinitely.

The Loss of the Ancestral Connection

Those children who have no contact with grandparents lose something that cannot be replaced by anyone; there are no substitutes for true bloodline grandparents. It is literally a break in the chain of these children’s ancestry that will be forever lost. The old are cheated as are the young. Lives will be emptier, less interesting, and less valued.

It is a terrible travesty and a devastating loss that will not be fully comprehended by society and the unfortunate participants until it is too late.