I never knew my grandparents. I don’t know what they look like. I don’t know the entire story of their lives. I don’t know their personality traits or mannerisms. I simply just don’t know. They were dead before I was born.
Growing up, I listened with sadness to the stories of my friends’ grandparents, or interacting with the grandparents of my friends. Now in my adult years, I watch in awe and joy my parents playing the role of grandparents. From watching the “movie” of my parents executing their grandparents’ role I can now talk about grandparents.
What do I observe?
On the light side: In Jamaica we say that grandchildren “get away with murder” from the grandparents. They spoil them. They banked their affections for their children, and withdraw it when the grandchildren appeared.
On the serious side: They pass on core values to the grands that the parents sometimes forget to do.
On the light side: They are more playful and light-hearted than they were with us growing up as children.
On the serious side: At family gatherings, they remember, recall, and retell scores of stories of the past; many are funny, but they hold the treasure of moral and social values.
On the light side: Grandchildren are spared the controlled discipline of corporal punishment. Remember those belts and whips! LOL
On the serious side: They worry about grandchildren. Everyday they express concern about the grands.
On this day, July 25, 2021, World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, I give thanks for my parents who are grandparents. I give thanks for my grandparents and what I may have inherited from them. I give thanks for the forced or unforced journey they may have taken from Africa, the Far East or Europe. For the faith and character to survive slavery, indentureship and colonialism.
I leave with you the words of Pope Francis: Grandparents, I want to tell you that you are needed in order to help build . . . the world of tomorrow: the world in which we, together with our children and grandchildren, will live once the storm has subsided.”