When Jayden lost her Grandma “B”—her trailblazing beloved role model for everything from community contribution to hiking in Croatia in your 80s—it hit hard. When Jayden and her fiancé get married this spring, they’ll be missing two other grandmothers, too. Both of Blake’s grandmas recently passed in a span of a few weeks.
Being age eligible for admission into this tribe of elders, I see the power of grandparenting regularly. Friends fill texts with adorable pictures of toddlers with saucer eyes and irresistible smiles. Pride appears in posts of kindergarten graduations, art exhibitions, and athletic competitions. The joy their children’s children bring them is palpable even on an iPhone screen.
I watch my sister Diane, after raising two children and two grandsons, now helps raise her great grandchildren. I saw Shirley be a committed grandmother from the day her first, Anna, was born and now watch her watch Anna prepare to head to college.
My grandmothers Anna Koester Koenig and Sophia Velder Sandman each sit with folded hands framed in silver on my altar. One January day in fourth grade I was told I’d stay home from school. I was to watch my three younger siblings for the day. My parents traveled to a small Nebraska town a few hours away for the funeral of the last of my living grandparents.
Not all grandparents are loving, of course, and each relationship is unique. But all grandmothers have an impact.
Today the sight of my grandmothers’ stoic faces and simple dresses inspires reflection on what it took for the sheer survival of their lives that included the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and 17 children between them.
If you are lucky enough to have grandmothers living, give them some love while you can. If you never knew them or no longer have them, allow yourself some imagination and appreciation, nonetheless. You can be sure that inside of each of their hearts—here or in the heavens—lives forever an image of you being your most adorable self and a big dose of unconditional love for you as the perfect, precious child you are.
That’s the gift of grandmothers here and gone.
Do you have a grandmother to connect with?
What would you grandmother see if she looked at your life?
How do you experience the role of a grandmother from others?