Honoring the Special Role of a Grandparent – The Ones Who Come Before Us

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GrandparentMy daughter, Brigit, is sure her grandmother holds the magic key to baking. They spent a long afternoon in the kitchen recently, trying to create a winning cake for a contest at the county fair. I stood in the entryway, feeling a bit jealous. Brigit was doing everything Grandma asked, without any complaints. Amazing!

“Now clean up each tool as you use it, honey,” she said and smiled as Brigit rushed to the sink. How I wished my daughter would follow through like that when we spent time in the kitchen!

Grandparents are like that

They have a special role, not just with grandchildren, but as a part of the community.

For us who are their grown children, they remind us that we are never too old to be corrected! And for our children, they are a curious mix of fragility and strength. On the one hand, my mom just went through cancer treatment and she needs a steadying arm when she walks down stairs. But, on the other hand, she jazzercises at age 86. Grandma knows that death could call at any time, but she has no fear of it.

She’s seen death over and over as she gradually outlives most of her friends. At the same time, her belief that this life is not the end becomes stronger.

In our culture, so obsessed with staying forever young, and trying to pretend death doesn’t exist, our senior citizens are an uncomfortable reminder to some folks. Wrinkles, walkers and oxygen tanks remind us that death will come for everyone. But our smiling, cheerful grandparents and great grandparents, also remind us that with age there is also freedom. After a certain age, there is not enough time to mince words or avoid the truth. We need this wisdom!

The Creator gave us families as a small microcosm of His love, discipline and wisdom. When we nurture the bond between our children and their ancestors, we are subtly helping them remember the One who came before all that comes before.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter declared that our country would have a national day honoring grandparents. He wrote:

“Just as a nation learns and is strengthened by its history, so a family learns and is strengthened by its understanding of preceding generations.”

This year, Grandparents Day falls on another day of historical importance…it is Sept. 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the US.

The mixture of the two events seems odd and yet inspirational. Ten years ago, terrorists rubbed death and fear in the face of our country. Until then, Americans were complacent. Our country seemed invincible in the face of such violence. That day we woke up and joined together—united again as Americans for the first time in a long time. That lesson from our history is that we can’t be in denial and we need a strong, unified presence in the world.

On Grandparents Day, we also remember that life is fragile and those we love will not always be with us in a physical way. We must embrace them NOW and trust in a good God who watches over us and walks with us, even when things are confusing or hard.

As I peek in again at my mom and my daughter laughing in the kitchen, I smile. Grandma is just visiting. This time is short and precious. Years from now I’ll be the one saying to Brigit’s daughter, “Now clean up each tool as you use it, honey.”

This month we ask God to bless all our ancestors, our living grandparents and our special homeland—this United States!

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Author: Judith Costello

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