I was a lucky kid growing up. I had three sets of grandparents which meant being adored by three spoiling grandmas and three fun grandpas. In addition to that, three of their parents were still around for me to develop relationships with throughout much of my childhood. I always realized my situation was special and I was fortunate to have the time with them that I did. Some of my fondest memories are of my great-grandma’s bright neon green jumpsuit that she’d wear to church, the same stories told over and over, the aluminum cups we’d drink milk out of on Christmas Eve at her house, the stationary bicycle that my other great-grandma rode until she was 88, the stops in Bradenton, Florida and their talking parakeet and when my great-grandma moved from Florida to the house right next door to my grandpa (her son) in Indiana where I grew up, allowing even more connection after my great-grandpa passed.
These are some of the memories I hold dear to my heart of my great-grandparents. I had the privilege of having two of them in my life until high school.
By the time I had all my kids, three of my six grandparents were still with us in addition to my husband’s two grandmas. This means my three kids have gotten to know FIVE of their great-grandparents! I thought I was lucky to know three, so to think my kids will have lifetime memories and pictures with five great-grandparents makes my heart full.
The honor of having living great-grandparents in our lives lets us see our families from an extended point of view.
It’s one thing to see prior generations on paper to know where you came from, but to actually live among them and hear their stories from their mouths and be in their presence is a modern-day treat. It allows the youngest generation see how family history and family trees work in real time. Kids get to say fun things like “my mom’s mom’s mom.” They can visually see the lineage of faces and how their family all connects. Of course, it’s also entertaining trying to explain this to our youngest children who stare back in confusion when they’re told that that old person they’ve been calling great-grandpa is their grandpa’s dad.
Most great-grandparents are at an age where they’re not running around and rolling on the floor with their great-grandkids, so it creates opportunities where old and young actually sit and talk. Not only does this give the child family stories to delight in, but it teaches them to slow down, listen, be more in the moment and be gentle. Their instincts kick in and most little kids even know not to barrel-run into a 90-year-old like they might do with their dad. Bringing the youngest and oldest together in a room creates a different kind of energy from which both can benefit.