Why I Love “Old People”
We just went down to Florida to visit our 3 month old daughter, Tallie’s Great Grandparents (my husband’s grandparents– the ultimate team!). They’re 90 and 91 years old. They’re married for 70 years. They’re…amazing.
I always had a very close connection with my grandparents growing up. They lived in the next town over and we saw them often. I have memories of my “Nanny” taking me to lunch, knitting me sweaters, and just spending time talking. She said I was the sunshine of her life and I believed her.
When you get to be in your teens, you think the “old people” are so old that they’re out of touch. As you get older, you find out that they’re more “in touch” with the ways of the world than you are. They call it like they see it. They say exactly what’s on their minds. They don’t care about “standing on ceremony” (as our grandmother says) or worrying that someone won’t include them or will think badly of them.
I think it rubs off. When I’m around our Florida Grandparents (and Great Aunts, cousins…etc!), I’m not nervous about hurting someone’s feelings. I speak my mind and they appreciate it. We have candid conversations and we don’t look for “hidden meanings” or wonder if we meant what we said. We also have emotional conversations–conversations about gratitude and love and life. We tell stories and share insights. We say the things most people wait to say until the person has left the earth. We tell each other why we are so appreciative. We laugh. We hug. It’s stripped down and open. It feels like it should be.
They marveled over every little thing Tallie did. Every sound, every smile. They remind us that the simple things should be coveted because time goes fast and, while life is amazing, if you don’t pay attention, you can miss out on the best moments.
But I think the most important thing about visiting grandparents is the relationships that can form between a child and these incredible seniors. Nobody can teach a child about nurturing, longevity, patience, forgiveness, and lifetime love like Grandparents. In our fast paced world many of us can’t stand to be in a room with the same person for more than 20 minutes—yet they’re spending everyday of 70 years with one another (and “not long enough,” as “Ma” says). Being with them reveals how it can work.
They’ve already gone “through it all” and they are not loving for what they get in return or trying to compete to get noticed. They give and share and make us laugh out loud with stories we’ve heard a thousand times. These are the stories I try to hold in my memory because one day they will be gone. For my daughter’s sake, I must remember. Who am I kidding? For my sake, I must remember.
It’s amazing what can happen when you open your eyes and your heart to the possibility of a deep understanding between you and a grandparent. They may not even be yours by blood—but they love you like you are…and you can’t help but love them like you’ve known them for a lifetime.
When we were leaving Florida yesterday, “Ma” and “Pa” told us how much we had done for them by coming down to see them and bringing our beautiful baby with us to steal their hearts. I’m grateful. Anything Tallie gets from them is a blessing.
Just a note- and of course this is a personal decision, but if you have been holding a grudge or have been disconnected with your child’s grandparents, perhaps it’s time to bury the hatchet or reconnect. I wouldn’t say to do it if my family hadn’t experienced a reunification of some sort at one time or another. It’s worth it. When we let the past continue to govern the future, we miss out on what can be. And what can be…can be wonderful.