Ashlee, my four-year-old granddaughter, played nearby while I cleaned up the wooded area behind my small mobile home. With typical curiosity, she stopped to examine some rocks that were arranged in the form of a cross.
“Why is this cross here, Grandma?” she asked.
“You remember Grandma’s little, black doggy, don’t you?” I asked. “When he died, your Daddy dug this grave to bury him. Now Fritzy’s body is resting here. Maybe Fritzy’s in ”doggy heaven,” if there is one,” I chuckled. Then, wanting to change the subject, I said, “Let’s pick some flowers for the kitchen table.”
Ashlee lingered over the stones for a few minutes, then skipped away. An hour later, she shoved a bunch of buttercups into my hand as we strolled through the woods.
“Is your yard heaven, Grandma?” she asked.
I marveled at Ashlee’s simple reasoning. Since Fritzy was buried in my backyard, the yard must be heaven! It was through yet another unplanned discussion about Fritzy that we were able to discuss an ordinarily scary subject (death).
Ashlee was the first of my five grands. In their individual ways, each one has helped me to view life in simpler terms. They have demonstrated to me that embracing simple pleasures are more important than giving extravagant gifts. I have been frequently touched by their apparent thrill for any little thing that I gave, regardless of how menial it may be; and I was able to reinforce their parents teaching of moral and spiritual values by not focusing on things. (Most parents will appreciate grandparents who do not try to outdo them in this arena!)
Whenever it has been possible, although these occasions have been limited, I have found it extremely rewarding to spend time alone with each of my grandchildren. The length and frequency of these visits aren’t as important as the substance. Although a trip to Disneyland with the grandchildren is bound to be exciting, it”s important to remember that children also appreciate simple, creative pastimes.
When two of my grandchildren moved too far away for frequent visits, we made memorable connections through letters and phone calls. One creative idea I’ve tried is drawing pictures in place of words when I write my letters. (I’m no artist; but I’ve found that stick figures work fine.) Including word games and riddles also made our letters special events.
I had great fun preparing tapes for my grandchildren. On one tape, I played my guitar and sang several Sunday school songs. I called it “Sing-along with Grandma.” (I’m sure their parents wore earplugs the third or fourth time the tape was played!) On another tape, I told a story, complete with such sound effects as squeaking doors, chirping birds, and barking dogs.
I was able to share some of my interests and creativity with my precious “grands” even though we were physically distant from each other. I had no idea how many times a day my grandchildren listened to my voice. But I do know the thrill I experienced whenever I received a cassette tape on which my grandchildren sang between their giggles.
It’s really grand to BE a GRAND!
Penny Smith, a native of Hazleton, PA enjoys a speaking and writing ministry both at home and abroad. She has two sons and five grandchildren. Her writings have appeared in numerous Christian periodicals over the years. She has authored the book, Gateways To Growth and Maturity.