“Grandparents, like heroes, are as necessary to a child’s growth as vitamins.”
As a little girl I remember my grandma being around a lot. She and my grandpa owned a radiator business where she worked energetically keeping books, answering phones, managing collections and even making deliveries. She was a female force of nature in a man’s world, and she always let me “help.” When I was a teenager life began to get more complicated, especially when my parents divorced. Grandma always listened and sympathized. I knew she understood when no one else did.
As an adult our relationship grew even closer. She praised me, complimented me and cheered me on. I always felt prettier, smarter and more capable in her presence than with anyone else. I was her favorite. Or so I thought.
In 1993 I blew out my knee in a skiing accident and back then ACL repair was a pretty difficult surgery. The day after I got out of the hospital Grandma Mamie went in to have heart surgery. It didn’t enter my mind that she could ever really die. At my husband’s urging I mustered my strength and went for a pre-op visit.
We prayed and held hands. She said, “No matter how this turns out it will be OK because I’ll either feel better on earth or a lot better in heaven… and God will take care of both of us.” She felt a lot better… with Jesus the next day. I did not. But I clung to her words, knowing that she wanted me to rely on the Lord for comfort.
I am now a grandma to three toddlers and feel richly blessed to have had my grandmother as well as my mother and step-mom to model this role for me so beautifully.
I am a rookie so won’t offer personal advice, but according to two of the wisest Ahwatukee grandmas I know (Rita Puckett and Nancy Markins — my mother-in-law) these are the things Godly grandparents do:
• Pray for them continually to be immersed in the knowledge and love of God at an early age and even to finding mates of God’s choosing.
• Perceive and reflect their worth and affirm God’s calling on their lives.
• Listen to them any time they want to talk.
• Gently offer wise counsel to encourage them in their faith and character development.
• Love them unconditionally… don’t be afraid that you’ll “spoil” them.
• Be creative, fun and affectionate.
• Respect their parents and never undermine their authority.
Proverbs 17:6 says that, “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged…” No wise person would ever neglect their “crown” or what they value most. Being a God-honoring grandparent is a huge job and when you get it, you’re the one who can do it best. It is, however, your decision.
If you are fortunate enough to have a grandparent still living, especially during the holidays, take advantage of what they have to offer. Share your heart, ask their advice, and listen to their stories filled with a wealth of experiences. Appreciate their humor, affection and wisdom. Tell them what they mean to you and how they’ve influenced your life.
I know that my grandma’s secret was that she made each of her grandkids believe they were her favorite. What an auspicious legacy to carry on, possibly even with children who have no one to call grandma or grandpa.