There is this stereotype that says grandparents are boring, out of style and not relatable to anyone under the age of 50. I have grown up believing the stereotype is wrong. I have always believed that grandparents should be respected for their wisdom and cherished for their personality.
Yet, I spent most of my life living in a way that said I believed the stereotype. My actions said that I did not think my grandparents were worth my time. I did not think I could relate to them, but then again, I hardly knew them.
This summer I took the time to actually get to know my grandparents. I was living by myself in my hometown, which is just a couple of hours from my grandparent’s house. They made it clear that I was welcome to stay with them if I become lonely living by myself. This was not something I was concerned about, since I was spending lots of time with friends. But to be polite, I thought I should visit them for a weekend.
It’s a little surprising when you realize you do not know a family member. I had never visited my grandparents on my own, and I realized they were much different when there was not a crowd of relatives around. I finally heard ‘grandparent stories’ about their lives growing up. I began to see what was truly important to them, and I saw the impact they had on their community. I joined them playing bingo at their church or driving through the car wash simply because they had a coupon. Those are things that are not unusual for grandparents, but they are things I had never experienced.
The more time I spent with my grandparents, the more I appreciated them. I enjoyed getting away from home and enjoying their relaxed pace of life. I finally began to understand and appreciate their personality.
I also realized how much I had disrespected my grandparents by not taking the time to get to know them earlier. I decided this was something that needed to change, and I began to make a conscience effort to value my grandparents. I visited them several more times throughout the summer, and began calling them on the phone. When school started, I could count on my grandma to send me letters telling me about the weather, quilting club and all the news from the rest of the family. It’s nice to know that there is at least one person that will always respond to my letters.
It is easy for me to not keep up with my family when I am so far away from home, and I am not always the best at making phone calls or writing letters. But when I do take the time to catch up, I enjoy hearing about the neighbor’s dogs, or the unusual weather they have been having. I know that they care about me, too, and I’ve found that a caring grandparent is an irreplaceable role in families.
I am saying all of this because I do not think it is uncommon for our culture to devalue grandparents. I am sure that there are others who are blessed with healthy grandparents, but hardly know what kind of blessing they have. If you are one of those people, take the time to write your grandparent a letter, call them on the phone, or visit them on your own. As college students, we are at a point in our life where we have the independence to make decisions about how much time we spend with family. Begin building those relationships now and take the time to appreciate your family. It is so easy to write someone off simply because we do not understand them. Most of the time, though, it does not take a lot of time to grow to appreciate someone we thought we could never understand or relate to.