The Legacy of Grandparents


The Legacy of Grandparents

I went to see my grandmother. I had the conversation that I always dreamed I might have. For a short moment in time, we had that bond that I always wished I had had with her.

Of course, the conversation was quite one-sided. I did all the talking. I sat beside her grave and through tears of anger, frustration, sadness, and pain, I spoke my truth. I talked and I sat in quiet contemplation too. In the process, I saw myself in her, her in me, and perhaps a bit of both of us in the eyes of my own granddaughter.

I’ve always adored the native notion that a grandparent is a special person to a child. That it is the grandparents who sit back and really listen to the voice of a child. The parent do their best and take care of the day to day needs of a child but the grandparents have the time and perspective to really see that child. Then, they support, nurture, and encourage that child to become the man or woman that they will someday become.

I truly believe how we are raised by our parents or guardians determines how we live our day to day lives. The skills we use to cope with the world. The things we value and strive to achieve.

Parents teach the here and now. The day to day. The everyday stuff.

The Perspective of Grandparents

However, in many ways, I think that our grandparents teach us about both the past and the future. Longevity. The things that will be important in twenty, forty, one hundred years from now. The things that endure.

In a way, I think that’s why traditionally it was the grandparent’s natural role to see that specialness in their grandchildren. They saw past all the day to day drama. They recognized the kinds of things that would blow over and moments that would define a person’s character.

I think in many ways, grandparents also provide a unique role model. They show a glimpse of a person beyond the work they did in life. The things they really value and how valuable they see themselves beyond a job, money, or even good health. How they coped with tragedy, loss, and if life is worth living after all of that.

To be honest, I always wished that my grandmother could be a mentor to me. I always wished that she could have seen something special in me, pointed it out, and then inspired me to become something more than I thought I could be. To show me some perspective that I greatly wanted and needed.

I did indeed learn a great deal from my grandmother’s example but I definitely wouldn’t call it a warm and fuzzy experience. To say the least, we weren’t close. Hence, the conversation.

I See Myself

Still, the really interesting thing about grandparents and their grandchildren is a whole I see myself in you and you in me type of moment. We expect that with kind of seeing/knowing with our parents who raise us but when we see it in the generations before it’s a very intriguing phenomena.

It’s at that point, I guess that we realize we are seeing patterns of behavior passed on from generation to generation. Frustration, hurt, and pain. People who isolate rather than gather together when things get tough. Passed on from parent to child, reinforced by grandparents.

To me, perhaps the most fascinating thing is that I had that conversation at all. We never talked in life. Yet, I felt compelled to do so even knowing that nothing can really be changed between the two of us.

I believe that recognizing the dynamics between us is half the battle. I now know the legacy that will be passed on to my granddaughter and probably someday to hers as well. I know how I will be seen and remembered.

Okay, so that thought terrifies me. Chills me to the bone actually. Yet, in knowing that pattern, maybe I can find my way out of it. Somehow, someway.