After a variety of grandparent/elderly articles this month, herewith something of a summing up.  You’ve possibly heard those words or maybe thought those words expressed in different tones of voice, possibly with very different emotions behind them. Take a moment to remember your own granny and what she would have had to say about you, and also what kind of granny you see yourself to be. Let’s look at it in this way.

OH TO BE A GRANNY! There is the brag-book granny, proud, happy. My little darlings are so cute and so clever.   Only 16 months and can………..  There is another show-off granny. “My darlings have done great things. Straight As throughout their schooling and now in highly-paid jobs. Their father/mother was like that too.

OH TO BE A GRANNY There is the older mother/mom-in-law, waiting, dying for a little one.  Even if children are married or not they might even say, “Just give me a grandchild to love.”

OH TO BE A GRANNY There is the concerned granny. “Oh what a blessing. In spite of parental neglect they at least have me to look after them.”

OH TO BE A GRANNY. There is the supportive granny, “I get satisfaction from being able to help. Or: the disappointed caring granny. “They really don’t seem to need me although they know I’m always willing to help.

OH TO BE A GRANNY. Heard from teenage mother. “I’m jolly pleased I can leave this child with my mom, so I can get on with my own life, go back to school, get a job.”

OH TO BE A GRANNY!   The loving patient gran on good terms with her grandson and always willing to learn some of the new skills he teaches her.

OH TO BE A GRANNY. There is the used/exploited granny, “I wish I wasn’t a granny.  I’m tired of looking after these brats. They eat my pension money and expect me to provide for them.   One step further is the abused granny.  physical, emotional and psychological she has lost her dignity and self-esteem.

OH TO BE A GRANNY. There is the hopeful granny. ”I’m hopeful that these young clever ones will be able to put things right in our mixed up world.”  And the prayerful granny.  “I offer up all my difficulties as sacrifices to Jesus and trust that he will care for us all. 

And no doubt there are more, to say nothing of the granddads!

For most of us, I hope, there is something very special in thinking about our grandchildren, wherever they are, recognizing their joys and hopes, their worries and griefs as well as our own on their behalf.  The sense of belonging lends a special character to family life as we consider how close we are or would like to be.

For some grandparents it might be a relaxing time as they begin to think of retirement. For many it is as busy as ever, if not more so, especially when they are involved with extended families. Relationships with adult children and in-laws does affect the relationship with grandchildren.  Communication between the generations is important about expectations and to address future arrangements should there be physical and mental illness or death, as is inevitable in time.  Too many families are taken by surprise when something unexpected happens.

Pope Francis in his message for the 2nd World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly has important words for us. Start a revolution of tenderness that is spiritual and non-violent. Apart from that he writes “the special sensibility that those of us who are elderly have for the concerns, thoughts and the affections that make us human should once again become the vocation of many.  It would be a sign of our love for the younger generations.” 

We, the elderly and the grandparents, are invited to be active and to still bear fruit.  As a closing reflection I offer a favourite song, ‘If we only have love” by Jacques Brel, dating from between WW 1 and WW2 and still relevant in our time of climate change and social upheaval. (access on youtube) My favourite lines, “if we only have love, we can melt all the guns, and then give a new world to our daughters and sons.  Then with nothing at all, but the little we are we’ll have conquered all time, all space, the sun and the stars. ” TR FAMILY WEEKLY 27 JULY 2022