Looking for love in all the right places
BY CHERYL HARBOUR
Grandparents and grandchildren have an almost supernatural connection, especially when the relationship is nurtured and valued. As most new grandparents tell you, becoming a grandparent is an experience like no other. You instinctively know you will love this baby intensely and infinitely.
Is the reverse true? In many cases — yes. A survey by the Foundation for Grandparenting asked young adults if a grandparent was an indispensable part of their family, and 77% of those surveyed answered yes.
I Am So New
Poem from your GRANDbaby to you
As you fold your arms around me,
feel the beating of my heart,
the patience of my breath
as I settle in to being held.
Watch my soft skin
mold around every expression
as I dream, startle, stretch, awaken –
unaware you are there.
See my eyes open and blink,
studying lights and shadows
and patterns that mean nothing yet.
I will learn in time
about sunshine and storms,
smiles and fears,
heaven and earth.
But for now –
spend time with me.
Hold me close.
Wonder at my new beginning.
Allow me to be who I am
in this very moment.
In the course of interviewing some high-profile people, we’ve come across more stories about the impact grandparents can have.
They are not alone – other accomplished people credit their grandparents with making a huge difference in their lives, including at least two presidents: Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. These other celebrities were either raised by their grandparents or have made it known how important their grandparents are to them.
“We don’t need celebrities to give us a guidebook for making the relationship with our grandchildren relevant and important. What we need is a commitment to be a positive influence in their lives…right from the beginning. You have everything you need – commitment and love.”
Pat Mitchell, the media trailblazer and powerhouse and our cover grandparent for the July/August issue of GRAND, often speaks to groups about what inspired her to overcome obstacles and accomplish all she has. She was the first woman to serve as president and CEO of PBS, and she is also the former president of CNN Productions, where she executive produced hundreds of hours of documentaries and specials, which received 35 Emmy Awards and five Peabody Awards.
When Pat was a young girl living with her grandparents in rural Georgia, her grandmother convinced her to believe in herself and not be afraid of making mistakes. One of her grandmother’s favorite messages was that “even if you fall on your face, that’s a good first step because at least it’s forward movement.”
Oprah lived on a farm in rural Mississippi with her grandmother during the early years of her childhood. “My grandmother gave me the foundation for success that I was allowed to continue to build upon. My grandmother taught me to read, and that opened the door to all kinds of possibilities for me. And had I not been with my grandmother, I probably would not have had the foundation that I had.”
Chelsea Clinton told us this about her two grandmothers. “Curiosity, tenacity, a deep commitment to their families and an abiding belief that in America, anything was possible defined my grandmother Dorothy and Virginia’s lives—and the way they raised their children and grandchildren. I miss them every day and, equally, am grateful every day for their inspiring examples.”
On her recent 50th Anniversary Celebration on television, Carol Burnett told the story behind a gesture she made at the end of each show. She’d tug on her ear as a special message to her “Nanny” that said, “Hello. I love you.” She credits living with her grandmother in Hollywood after her parent’s divorce for helping her discover her future path as an entertainer. Her grandmother would work to save money, so The two of them could go to the movies. It was a special message sent to her “Nanny” that said, Hello. I love you.”Carol Burnett’s signature ear-tug at the end of every show? Bet you didn’t know what it meant. The gesture was a way of saying “Hello, I love you,” to her grandmother who raised her. Burnett moved in with her grandmother after her parents divorced when she was young. Living in Hollywood with “Nanny” as she called her grandmother, Burnett discovered her love of entertainment. Each week her grandmother would save up so they could go to the movies.
President Barack Obama’s grandmother passed away on the eve of election day. “And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure,” Obama said in his 2008 victory speech.
After his mother was murdered when he was just five, his grandmother, Avis Marino, stepped in to raise him and his sister, Robin. “It was my grandmother who raised me, and living with her and my sister is what I remember best. It was the family unit that is special to me. My grandmother was the best,”
Maya Angelou “I loved my grandmother…I try to be the same kind of grandparent I had,” Angelou said. “My grandmother was the best.” My grandmother told me, that every human thing I do helps some human being in the world. I believed her 50 years ago …and still do.
Jamie Foxx’s grandparents adopted him as an infant and recognized his musical talents before he even started kindergarten. Most families worry about their kids getting into the entertainment biz, but when he won a classical piano scholarship after high school, his grandmother told him that’s how he was going to make money. She was kind of right — he won an Academy Award for Ray in 2005 and dedicated it to her.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – CHERYL HARBOUR
Cheryl Harbour is the special editor of our “My GRANDbaby” section and author of Good to Be Grand: making the Most of your Grandchild’s First Year, a combination of up-to-date information and grandparently inspiration.