8/25/2009

Tuesday - Grow your family












Madonna

collage

e.schoettler

Grandparents. Yesterday my friend Jennie sent me a list of kids' sayings and observations about grandparents . Jim and I are long-distance grand-parents. We have logged a peck of sky miles to visit our grandsons who live on the West Coast so this one was just too true.

A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her.. Then, when we're done having her visit, we take her back to the airport."

When Robin and family moved to San Francisco they lived in a furnished transit apartment while they were waiting to get into their new house. Jim and I went out to help with the children while Robin managed the move. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel where we had room to have the kids over, take them for breakfast, eat fresh poppped popcorn in the lobby every afternoon and watch the fish in a huge in-door fish pond. After we flew home Scotty, the youngest , then about three, pointed out the hotel and told his mother, "I want to go and see Weezie and Grandpa at their house." How I wished it was that simple.

When I was growing up we always lived within walking distance of both grandmothers. I was closest to Granny - that's what I called my mother's mother. When I started school we lived one block and two houses from Granny and I could walk - by myself - to her house anytime I wanted to. I loved that - and so did she. Or if she didn't she never let on to me.

I loved being with her - sitting and listening to her programs on the radio, or riding to the grocery store. Going downtown to shop with her was a real adventure and it seemed to me on those occasions that my grandmother knew everybody in Charlotte because she spoke to them all on the street and in the stores. We played rummy and she let me bang on my aunt's piano. Some times she even let me explore the storage house by my self. we snapped beans and shelled peas and often I watched her make biscuits and mix up a cake - all from scratch. And, she talked to me. I don't remember what we talked about - I just remember that we talked and it was good.

Jim and I both left our home towns to make our fortunes and so our children did not live near either set of grandparents. I was disappointed for them that they did not have that close relationship with grandparents. Jim's parents in California did not travel and air fares for five were too expensive for our pocketbooks until the kids were in elementary school. We flew out when Jimmy and Karen were babies and I was pregnant with Robin. And then not again until all were in late elementary school.

My mother was just forty when my first child was born. She was excited and I think she wanted to embrace grand-parenting but before she had a chance to try it she had another baby and was back into mothering a new baby of her own. She got side-tracked from grandchildren. We lived far away and its hard to be a long distance grand parent when you have a baby on your knee.

Looking back I wish I had been wise enough to adopt grandparents for them - grandparents who lived next door or one block and two houses away. If anyone asks me that's the advice I would give them. That must be how the "old-time" settlers re-familied themselves when they moved west for better land to farm or new opportunities.

Today technology helps to bridge distances . We can talk on the cell phone from anywhere, use Skype and see the kids as we talk to them, email, or write blogs. But it cannot replace having someone who is part of your daily life, some one to share a cup of coffee or someone to hold your hand on a hard day.

So I say - - adopt. Grow your family.

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