Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where Would We Be Without GrandMa & GrandPa?

A grandparent's love and support should never be underestimated.

Senator Obama will drop everything to be by the side of his ailing maternal grandmother. As he should because though he's in the political fight of his career he still has his priorities intact. Which is family first.

I have lost all of my grandparents and with them the wisdom of those that came before us. My maternal grandparents had divorced (with my grandmother moving to a new city) and I only saw my maternal grandfather a few times during my childhood. I remember him to be a bear of a man as he was well over 6ft. tall and solidly built. I wish we'd had more time together. 

My paternal grandparents were local. My paternal grandfather worked at a steel mill and had just reached retirement when they all went under. He passed when I was eight and my memory of him gets a little fuzzier every year. The one thing I remember about him is that he loved me because he was very affectionate. He would hug me and kiss me on the cheek and give me pennies! He always told me how much I was loved and I remember feeling very safe sitting in his lap and being enveloped in his arms. I immediately felt his absence, the absence of unconditional love after he was gone. 

My maternal grandmother was the relative I was closest to for most of my formative years. She was the person I was able to completely unburden myself to. Our bond was tighter than the one I shared with my parents, second to the one I had with my God.  She helped get me clothes when I had to transfer from parochial to public school unexpectedly. She always listened to what I had to say and didn't treat me like a 'child' but as a person. She was just there - as the physical embodiment of that spiritual connection. I really enjoyed spending time with her because I could relax. No chores. No younger siblings to care for. No navigating through the ins and outs of my parent's sometime volatile relationship. 

As I got older she continued to serve as an inspiration. She went to college for the first time during her 50's to obtain her degree. I interviewed her for a class project of mine and she expressed her wish for the choices women of my generation had. We also discussed the options available for Black women during her time and how societal mores had evolved. It was a kick to go through public records and see how certain details of her life (and women like her) were available for review.  

In her later years she wanted to go back to certain points in her life to make a different choice. I am certain many of us have similar regrets, but that doesn't mean we didn't impact others in a positive way. My younger siblings and cousins had an entirely different relationship of course, being that I was the first grandchild and eldest child of the eldest sibling. I will always be grateful though, for that little pocket of time in my youth and the guidance I received from her. 

Best wishes for all of our ailing grandparents and for Mrs. Dunham. I hope she gets to see her grandson elected President! 

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