The Impact of a Grandparent

I don’t have to take too many steps in life to run into a memory of Grandaddy.  Isn’t it interesting how just the thought of a dear loved one gone ahead can bring instant tears?  So I began to consider his impact today.

Grandaddy was so dear to me.  

He retired as superintendent of schools the year I was born.  I always secretly thought he did it for me.

Where he went I would follow. We would go “visitin.”  That included The Aunt’s house, the hospital, nursing home…it just didn’t matter.  He took me.

We went shopping.  I really only remember us (Grandaddy and I ) taking Grandmother to Goldsmith’s in midtown Memphis.  She shopped and we went to the candy store and ate malted milk balls.  But other than that, he and I did the shopping. The grocery store, Co-op and pharmacy. If it needed buying we went.  

We went to church together. I sat with him long after all my friends moved, as cool teenagers, to the balcony.  He kept chewing gum for me in the left-hand pocket of his suit coat.  All I had to do was reach in and get me some.  (Tears.)

I even went to the funeral home with him. 

They called me his “shadow” in town.  

When I became sick at (of) school I would go to his house.  There were a few rough years there when I “got sick” a little more often than usual.  Comfort came from a blanket on the couch watching Mr. Rogers with Grandaddy.  

How did he do it?  How did he make me feel so loved?  What was it about his care that made such an indelible impact on my life that I would tear up nearly 3 decades later?

  • He considered me.  

The chewing gum seemed like a little thing. It. Was. Not.  It took time each week to think ahead.  He knew just where to put it so that it would be there for me.  As he was getting dressed he was thinking of me.  I knew that I didn’t even have to ask permission.  It was a gift for me, just waiting for me to take it.  

  • He included me.  

Yes, there were places that he didn’t take me.  But he enjoyed taking me with him.  We were a team and often he made me feel indispensable in whatever project he was working on.  I know now that he could have done it easier and quicker without me, but I never knew that then.  

So because of his patience and kindness I:
cleaned catfish
repaired broken fences
sawed boards
ran a tiller
mowed the grass
slopped pigs
fed cattle
shelled peas
dried apples
picked muscadines
learned to drive  

I even learned about writing a Sunday School lesson.

Most of what we did together were things that he needed to do.  I didn’t care one single bit.  I just wanted to be with him.  

The Impact of a Grandparent
  • But, it wasn’t all about me.

I remember one time we played baseball with a stick and red rubber ball.  I enjoyed it, but honestly it wasn’t our best day.  He played that with me, for me. But honestly, we had more fun when I was joining him.  

I think as parents and grandparents we think that in order to make the biggest impact with our kids we have to convert to their fun.  As I look back I am beginning to wonder if we have missed the mark.  

The things I learned from Grandaddy were not things that I was particularly interested in.  I just wanted to be with him.  I do think there was a particular attraction to the adventures that other grown-ups would not have included a kid in. Some of the projects were hard.  But he found a way to include me and I can remember the pride I had when he would brag on us and tell someone else that we had finished some hard project together. (More tears.)

The Impact of a Grandparent

But it wasn’t about what Grandaddy and I did as much as it was that we did it together.  I was valuable to him.  And oh my Lord, was he valuable to me.  I needed to feel needed.  I longed to be wanted.  (What kid doesn’t?)  

But do we do anything in the lives of our children that teaches these lessons to the them? As a parent, it causes me to think about how life is rolling around here.  Am I including our kids in our lives in such a way that they will look back later and know they were needed and wanted?  

And remember. This was not my father.  This was my grandfather.  As grandparents, may we never underestimate the value of our time and love in the lives of our grandchildren.  

So if you have a project, even a big one, include those kids around you.  Do you have a need? Ask for help.  They need to feel needed.  Talk with them.  Let them ask a billion questions.  These days are short and our time is limited.  They will remember.  Brag on them to others (in front of them)  about what you have accomplished with their help.

One day Grandaddy and I will be reunited.  He will be waiting for me…I just know it.  And when he does I won’t be surprised if he has plans for us.  Who knows, he may be the one to take me to meet Jesus face-to-face.  (I have to stop here, I can’t see through the tears.)