When we wanted to sell our hundred-year-old farmhouse, our adult children were devastated. To them, it was a museum of childhood memories. They wanted it to be there for their children to enjoy. My heart was warmed that our home held good memories for them. However, now that we are grandparents, it’s all making more sense.
In a recent article by Steve Stifler, he put words to what my children were feeling.
From Grands Matter
“Children need many positive influences in their lives, and we grandparents can play a unique role. For one thing, we symbolize family: the porch swing, the old kitchen table, the tool bench, even our clothes. I know one man who proposed to his wife very early one morning in his grandfather’s hay loft. Why did he take her there, of all places? People do all kinds of strange things for love, but I think there was something else working as well. That loft was a place that held deep family connections.
“Children look at us grandparents as magical creatures, because we embody the concrete, wonderful past. Our albums and attics are full of treasures. We are like living links between generations. We’ve lived through wars, hard times, cultural changes, as well as their parents’ childhood. I’ve heard it said that when an old person dies, a library burns to the ground. We need to make sure our grandchildren visit that library often while they can.
“Grandparents also provide connection points for a family. In our world, so often kids grow up and go away to college and then take jobs in who-knows-where. The pursuit of “success” might take them further and further away from their roots. But we grandparents can help restore what has been lost, and impart to the coming generations the importance of being a family.”
My son-in-law proposed to my daughter in the flower garden of that old farmhouse. It was also there that we held their wedding.
I’ve heard it said that it’s a shame that youth is wasted on the young. But maybe, that’s why God made grandparents. We are the keepers of the past. Not just family history, but family secrets. As Stifler said, to our grandchildren, “we are magical creatures.”
That explains the look in my grandson’s eyes one day. His brother was acting up. I looked at him and scolded him slightly and added, “You don’t scare me boy. I raised your Dad.”
The light went on. In their minds, I was the boss of their dad. In the world of eight and ten year old boys, the only one higher than me was God.
We are the connection between the generations. While their young parents work hard to make their dent in the world, and put food on the table, we have an important role to play. As grandparents, we are not only the curators of the family treasures of values, memories and artifacts– we are charged with keeping that chain of generations strong.