LOOK OUT WORLD: A LOVING GRANDMA IS ON DUTY
By Harriet Hodgson
Recently I read some blog posts by grandmas. Though a few posts were positive, most were negative. The grandmas couldn’t seem to find anything positive to say about aging or the wisdom they had acquired. My reaction to aging is different. Because I’m a grandma, I’m saying and doing things I’ve never done before. Maybe I need a badge that says GRANDMA ON DUTY!
I’m on marriage duty.
My husband’s aorta dissected in 2013 and he had three emergency operations. During the third one he suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed his legs. Since I drove him to the hospital emergency department I’ve been his caregiver and advocate. Although we have a less mobile life these days, we have a good life, and are more in love than ever. Each day is a blessing and we savor the days we have together.
I’m on GRG duty.
After my twin grandchildren’s parents died from the injuries they received in separate car crashes, the court appointed my husband and me as their guardians. (My daughter was, and always will be, the twins’ mother.) The court appointed my husband and me as the twins’ guardians and we became GRGs—grandparents raising grandchildren. According to the US Census Bureau, 10% of all grandparents in the nation are raising their grandkids. Raising the twins for seven years was a responsibility and a joy. Though the twins are adults now, I’m still a GRG when called upon.
I’m on safe driving duty.
When I noticed drivers weren’t stopping at stop signs—just slowing down and proceeding forward—I became upset. The police call this practice a “rolling stop” and it’s dangerous. What if a car hit a walking child or a child on a bike? I wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and asked drivers to follow the law and come to a full stop at stop signs.
I’m on political duty.
Contentious as politics has become, I always vote and stay informed on issues. A friend of mine asked me to write for her political campaign, and I agreed to do it because of her teaching background and focus on children’s issues. My tasks included proofreading letters, writing new letters, helping with promotional materials, and delivering literature to homes. I was delighted when my candidate won re-election.
I’m on anti-theft duty.
We live in a townhome on a private street. It’s a safe neighborhood so I was surprised when a porch pirate stole my husband’s asthma medication. I reported the theft to the police and a detective came to our home. According to the detective, thieves look for neighborhood that have connected mailboxes, such as four linked together, because it saves them time. I also reported the theft to the neighborhood association and it is pursuing the idea of locked mail boxes.
I’m on learning duty.
My family didn’t get a television set until I was a senior in high school. Instead of watching television, my brother and I went to the library and took out as many books as we could carry home. I still love to read. The day doesn’t seem right and is a bit “off” if I don’t learn anything that day. Learning is good modeling for grandchildren. The twins know I love to read and love to learn.
I’m on writing duty.
To keep my skills sharp, I write every day, everything from articles for websites, magazine articles, handouts to support the talks I give, and writing books. My 37th book is in production now and comes out in the fall of 2019. It’s a book about being a grandmother and I’m excited about it. I’m excited about the cover too. Waiting for the release date is going to be difficult.
I’m on giving duty.
Giving to others helps them and makes me feel good inside. I give free talks to community groups, talk to school kids about writing, and donate to the food bank in memory of my daughter. One of the best gifts I give is the gift of listening. A grandchild can feel like nobody is listening. That’s why I practice active listening. I make eye contact, nod to show I’m listening, and refrain from interrupting. Active listening takes more energy than passive listening and it’s worth the energy.
Grandmas have special skills to share with families. They are also keepers of history. “A house needs a grandma in it,” Louisa May Alcott once said, and I think she was right.
I’m just one grandma, trying to make a difference. There are millions of grandmas like me. Working alone and together, we are loving, protecting, and nurturing grandchildren around the world. Some grandmas are activists, others are advocates, and others are both. Instead of sitting around and waiting for things to change, grandmas are initiating change.
Be on the lookout for the loving grandmothers in your community. Join their efforts. If you can’t join in, support their efforts verbally and financially. The loving grandmas of the world are on duty, and always will be. Hug a grandma today!
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