(or...The Mom behind the Mom behind the Rustic Red Door)
Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly . . . Proverbs 17:6
Ooooooo. I may have offended some of you right off the bat. The word “elderly”, especially in our society where youthfulness is idealized, can leave a sour taste in your mouth. But if you ask any grandparent, you’ll soon find out that as unflattering as the word “elderly” may be to some, it is DEF worth the perks.
With Grandparents Day coming in less than ten days (September 9th), I asked to interview the owner of Rustic Red Door’s mom and dad who are the grandparents of 9 grandchildren (8 boys, 1 girl) from age 6 years to 20. I discovered that along with the wide range in ages comes an eclectic array of life stations. Their youngest just started kindergarten, 2 each are in the elementary, middle, and high schools; 1 started his freshman year at West Point while the oldest began his junior year at Penn State. What grandparents wouldn’t be poppin’ buttons over that alone? But there’s much more to the very involved life that this particular grand-parenting couple share.
As I received each response to my questions, the deep affection Grandma and Grandpa feel for each of their 9 grandchildren is quite evident. I found that Grandma aptly paints a beautiful picture of most grandparents’ hearts which are typically full of unconditional love for each grandchild. If you’ve ever wondered why grandmothers and grandfathers do what they do and love the way they love, perhaps you’ll soon begin to understand as you peek into the life through the eyes of this “elderly” crown-wearing mama.
What do you like best about being a grandparent? Least? I love watching how each one is developing and the diversity of their personalities. Your grand-kids give you unconditional love; one of the most exciting moments is when each one learns to say “Grandma”. Seeing them smile when you arrive and asking how long you are staying and not wanting you to leave [is another bonus.]
[My least favorite thing about being a grandparent] is being so far away.
How has your life changed since having grandchildren? It is hard to explain. There is great joy when each one enters the family, and I was surprised at how much you love each one. But also, if I allow myself, I can increase my worry for each one, too. I guess the biggest change was the expansion of our family [that brought] more people to love and care for. I also seem to work my schedule around their activities, and so I am busier.
What are some favorite things you’ve done with one or more of your grand-kids?
- being at the birth of 7 of the 9 children. It was amazing to share that with my kids and I am thankful that they allowed me to do it.
- train trip from Chicago to Seattle with [one of our grandsons and his parents]; it was exciting to see how much he enjoyed the ride and watching the trains and seeing our country from a different view.
- watching as our grandson was accepted into West Point as a cadet
I loved taking walks with them.
- [One grandson used to] put on a superhero costume and walk me through the woods around his house taking me on an adventure.
- I remember a walk [with my 4 year old granddaughter while] we were celebrating my 60th birthday. Since it was autumn she wanted to know who painted all the leaves, and I got to tell her that God did.
- boating, going to beaches, reading to them
We have gone to plays, teas and weekends watching her skate.
- [Another grandson] is always giving advice on how to get the best deal, and it is an experience shopping with him.
- [The youngest] is my lunch buddy and still gets excited when I show up.
- watching [them] play at sports that include everything from swim team to sled hockey
- doing vacations with them. We have vacationed alone with some families and [have had] large beach vacations with everyone.
- [I love] just having a grandchild one-on-one. So many blessings with them!
Are you offended by the word “elderly"? I am not offended at being called elderly even though I don't feel that way. I do hear my grandsons call me old, and I do not like that. Once I went to the pool with the twins, they were five, and one said to the other, “Look at Grandma's legs!” and the other said, “She’s old.” You need a good sense of humor with those guys-- they say it like it is.
If you could do anything over again pertaining to being a grandparent what would that be?
What I would have done differently is prayed more for each grandchild and my children. I get busy and need to make it a priority. As the world gets crazier, we, as grandparents, need to pray harder.
I hope you’ve been able to sense how each grandchild--in his or her unique way--has contributed to the pinnacle of grand-parenthood. The joy, fullness and renewed enthusiasm they bring to life are immeasurable!
If you’re blessed to be a grandchild with living grandparents, take a moment to connect. Thank them for all the kisses, snuggles and hugs they unabashedly gave; for all the schedules they changed last-minute just so they could be with you...even if for a short moment; for the action-packed adventures as well as the simple, quiet moments cuddling or rocking you, reading stories or tickling your back; for all the miles traveled to watch you play in sports or perform in a play. Thank them for their many prayers on your behalf. And finally, thank God for the honor, privilege and blessing it is to have grandparents while remembering this:
What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies. --Rudy Giuliani