It was spring cleaning time. The ‘bhangarwalla’ was standing by. Every-so-often he would ask, “what else?” As the lady of the house discarded things, a quiet voice from behind, asked softly, “why don’t you give away this old model as well?” Shocked, the lady turned to look at her old mother sitting on a chair nearby. The lady hugged her and chastised her lovingly. The grandchild went and sat on the frail lady’s lap and this made her day!
How many of us spend time with our grandparents? We accept them in our hearts. We know they are there. But do we demonstrate our love? Or do we just take their presence for granted?
Some grandparents are energetic and love living life on their terms, independent of anyone. They are the ones who come on the dance floor. They do not hesitate to speak their mind and wisdom reflects in their words of advice. They make sure that they are not taken for granted and sidelined. They live happily and don’t allow loneliness to get to them.
Yet, there are many more who are unbale to leave home and become frail with age. The fear of falling and getting hurt keeps them homebound. For them, their house and its inhabitants constitute their entire world. Spending time with their children and grandchildren is what they look forward to most! This escapes today’s increasingly self-centered youth leaving the seniors feeling neglected, rejected and lonely.
Though we understand that today’s young adults lead busy lives, one needs to remember that compromising on family-time means robbing your emotional quotient of nurturing and growth. All head and no heart will take you down. Youngsters and teenagers seem to like helping people, doing social service and being trend setters. They live for friends, acquaintances and more. Why not start at home?
Not all grandparents are easy to get along with. Some are stubborn and may cause rifts and unnecessary tensions. But maintaining a positive, peaceful environment with transparency, love and respect amongst family members will promote a conducive atmosphere for communication. Most times, grandparents will come around if made to understand with patience – it also helps if younger family members can learn to let go and be the bigger person.
The truth is what matters most to Grandparents and what they seek is love and attention. Factor in some time for them daily. Make this a special time for you both. Let no one interfere in your tête-à-têtes. They can be great listeners and they would love to hear you. They understand your angst and can be refreshingly surprising when it comes to letting you do things that even your parents may not permit! Especially our Bapaijis and Mamaijis have been known to be much more understanding and open-minded on occasion and even speak on your behalf to others!
Here are a couple of things you can do to as a grandchild that would go a long way in making their twilight years happier:
* If you are away at work or out with friends, make that random call to your grandparents. Tell them that you miss them. Or that something happened, something you saw or ate which reminded you of them. Let them feel that they are a part of your life and not ‘old people’ that you have outgrown and forgotten.
* Try to be a mediator, when necessary, between your parents and grandparents, when relations between them go south. Help them both see reason. You are the common denominator and loved dearly by both – so be the glue that binds them both.
* Get them to do some physical and mentally stimulating activity, along with you. Play simple board games with them. Let those grey cells keep working.
If you’re thinking of getting your Grandparents a gift to make them feel extra special on Grandparents Day, here are a few suggestions which they would most appreciate:
Laughter: Make them laugh so that they forget their frailties.
Love: Shower them with lots of love. Make them feel wanted and that their life was worth every hardship they faced, so that they can now enjoy themselves and have happy times.
Respect: Even if you may not agree with what they say, do not disrespect or mock them. This makes them retreat further into their shell.
Re-assurance: Take up for them. Stand up for them so they feel reassured and secure.
Joy: Buy them small presents randomly, not just on their special days. It could be a hairclip, a broach, a kerchief or a spectacle-holder. Everyone likes presents. Nurture that twinkle in their eyes and feed their excitement. They are most easy-to-please!
Time: All the above is possible if you give them the most important of all gifts – Your Time. Spending quality time with grandchildren is therapeutic for them, and more potent than all their medication put together! It gives them purpose, something to look forward to. When grandparents are assigned important roles or activities by parents, it gives them a sense of importance and makes them feel wanted. That cultivates a positive mental state and alertness. The exchange of positive energy and love strengthens bonds amongst family members and leads to a harmonious and healing environment.
There will come a time when we will miss, or maybe we already do, the feel of that loving hand over our head, that soft touch of fingers on our face, the small soft body – not tightly huggable any more, the smile and the white wispy hair. All we have to do is remember them and they are there for you in spirit, as they always were!
Here’s wishing all our fabulous Mamaijis and Bapaijis and Mamavajis and Bapavajis a Happy Grandparents Day!