(I found this picture of grandparents in Google images but it's probably not very accurate because very few nannas I know look like this. Not a grey hair among them!)
Last weekend we took the kids to visit my grandmother-in-law in the nursing home where she now lives. It was, as always, a poignant visit. We arrived at lunchtime and looking around at everyone sitting at tables with their bibs…many being fed…..it was hard to watch. With the kids and particularly Remy, in his capsule, the contrast between the begining and end of the life cycle was stark.
We don't visit Jason's grandmother nearly enough and there is no excuse. We should. She'll be 100 in a year or so.
Just that morning, I'd been reading a wonderful column in the Tele by Annette Sharp about how she'd been looking for a nanna for her three young daughters. Her own parents are alive but living several hours away and her children and parents don't have regular time together due to the distance. Conscious that her children are missing out on the invaluable benefits of a relationship with adults of that generation and aware that many older people are without their own grandchildren by reason of distance or circumstance, Annette has been trying to find a mutually beneficial substitute 'nanna' relationship.
Over the past year or so she's sought a nanna for her girls via posting notices in her doctor's surgery and church but she hasn't had much luck. Recently, she met a lovely older Italian woman by chance when attending an auction and has been slowly exploring a mix of occasional visits and paid care.
Unfortunately, this touching personal story hasn't been posted online but there was another story here a couple days earlier about other people looking for surrogate grandparents which is worth a read.
Due to some women having babies later in life (meaning grandparents might not be around or able to be very involved by the time their grandchildren come along) and family breakdowns and people moving away from their home towns….more and more kids are growing up without regular (or any) contact with their grandparents.
Reading about this reminds me how fortunate I am to have both sets of my kids' grandparents within a couple of suburbs. They have all seen their grandparents at least once a week since they were born. They also have two great-grandparents – my grandfather and Jason's grandmother – so we are blessed when it comes to all the practical and emotional benefits of that cross generational bond.
Just as beautiful as watching my own children's relationship developing with my parents (and my parents-in-law) has been seeing what it brings for them. They're just such good friends and genuinely seek out each others' company. It's an uncomplicated thing. As my mum says…"It's hard to find the time to play with your own children…life gets in the way and you always have other things to do but when you're a grandparent, you can just focus and play. It's wonderful."