Monday, December 18, 2017

Nana? Poppa? Who are the Grand People in Your Life?

To a child, a grandparent can be one of the most important people in his or her life. Be it for fun and play; knowledge and experience; time and patience; or literally room and board, a grandparent can be a life source for a grandchild.

When interviewing various grandparents, it was obvious that not all participate in their grandchildren’s lives in the same way. Patricia, of Picayune, has five grandchildren, ages 12 to 25, and told me about her life with her first grandson.
 
“Zackary was my first and only grandchild for seven years,” she said. “As a baby, he was quiet and cuddly. I rocked him a lot and sang all the lullabies heard by his day and improvised on new ones when I ran out.”
 
She said she would dine with her grandson every Thursday night, “until more of life and siblings intruded.”
 
“He is now married to a lovely lady who extends her love to us, as he still does,” she said.
 
Another grandparent I interviewed was Theodore, of Carriere, near Picayune. He is not privy to a lot of physical time with his young grandkids since they live in Louisiana, but finds a way to share his love and nurturing just the same.
 
“Unfortunately, the miles between my three grandsons and myself prevent us from visiting face to face and sharing precious hugs very often,” he said. 
 
“I attended a basic class on laptops, webcams and Skype, which was offered at our local Senior Center. By texting in the morning with my son or daughter-in-law, it’s easy to find out what’s on tap in their lives for the day. After getting home from work, while waiting for supper, we get online and it pretty much stuns them with Pawpaw’s knowledge of all they’re doing. Sometimes we even study for upcoming tests from the emails sent to me from their mom,” he said.
 
“My son even designed emojis for us to give each other goodnight hugs,” he added. “I wish it could be more, but I am happy for what it is.”
 
Looking at how the grandparent role can differ from that of being parents, it was interesting to speak with a man who has recently become a grandfather.  
 
Vance, who raised his kids in Kiln, Mississippi, has only been a grandad for the last four years and was asked: “How has becoming a grandfather affected how you feel as a parent?” “When my kids were young, we got caught up in everyday life,” he said. “There was always the race to get from one point to another -- sports, dance, work and school events. Every waking moment seemed to be wrapped around going to or returning from. Covering these milestones left little time to just sit back and watch them grow up. However, I loved every moment and think the kids had happy childhoods.”
 
“With my two granddaughters, I have been able to look from the outside in,” he said, of how it’s different now as a grandfather. “I can laugh off things that used to upset me. My patience has grown exponentially. I have a better understanding of my children and what they have become. I’m not concerned about milestones, just about the next time I get to spend with my two young granddaughters.”
 
“I am truly blessed with a loving wife, three awesome children, and the most inspiring grandkids in the world,” he added.
 
Some grandparents provide childcare so the youngsters may remain in a family-oriented environment while young working parents are away. Many grandparents do this until the child reaches school age. 
 
Other grandmothers and grandfathers provide actual homes when parents are out of the picture. Either way, the world should recognize that the role of the grandparent is invaluable.
 
In the U.S., Grandparents have been celebrated on a special day since 1978; they are honored on the Sunday after Labor Day. Since then, a Grandparent Day of some sort has become a regular event on various dates in 26 countries around the world.
 
No matter the date, Grandparents Day activities recognize and celebrate the importance of the elderly and their contributions to family and community. According to GrandParently.com, that is just what the founder, Marian McQuade, had in mind. After her 15 children grew up and left home, she lobbied Congress for National Grandparents Day in an effort to provide companionship for the lonely.

 

Lynne Adams Barze' was born in the Faubourg Treme' of New Orleans. She moved with her husband to Picayune in 1999 and loves the state of Mississippi. Barze' has penned five novels, freelances for magazines, owns an antique mall, and is a “proud cat parent.” She’s a member of GPAC and the Picayune Writers Group. 

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