Today, for the first time, I saw it. It was brief, just a momentary glance between all of you. What was that expression? Amusement? Mild exasperation? Your grandfather was retelling that story again. The one we’ve all heard half a dozen times. The one we heard last Sunday.
It’s sweet how he loves to tell it, to relive the day he took you fishing and he, the expert fisherman, caught nothing while one after the other each of you landed a “real whopper.” To your credit, you laughed and reminisced today like you hadn’t heard that story in months. My hope is that years from now, when your grandparents are gone, it is the fishing trip you will remember and not the endless retelling of the same story.
I am surprised to see my parents getting older
Did you know that Grammy and Grandad were only a few years older than I am now when they became grandparents? When all of you were small, they were young—well, youngish. And just as I am sometimes caught off guard by the realization that none of you are little anymore, I am also surprised to see that my parents are getting old.
In my mind, all of you should be little children, and your grandparents should still be the energetic, middle age couple who provided so much blessed assistance to tired young parents. But I realize that in your mind, your grandparents have always been old—even when they were just a few years older than I am now.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with being old. Old age and the wisdom that comes with it are gifts. But along with wisdom, inevitably comes forgetfulness, impatience, frustration, and frailty. Not yet (at least not often), but soon, your grandparents will start to experience all of these things.
Remember these 11 things about Grammy and Grandad
I know you will continue to show them all the warmth, affection, and respect that you always have, but I need you to do more than that. As Grammy and Grandad get older, I want you to remember this…
- Remember that the man who repeats the same stories over and over, is the same man who read Where the Wild Things Are no less than 500 times—and always did the monster voices.
- Remember that the woman who complains about a five dollar cup of coffee is the same woman who always took you shopping for new school shoes.
- Remember that the couple who grumbles about not being able to sleep at night made elaborate pallets on the floor and then let you sleep in their bed anyway.
- Remember that the man you will soon have to help down the stairs used to get down on the floor with you to wrestle and play zoo and build awesome wooden block cities.
- Remember that the man who wants you to teach him (again) how to login to Netflix once taught you to bait a hook, shoot a BB gun, and drive a golf cart.
- Please remember how the two people at Sunday dinner who keep asking you to speak up, are the same people who harmonized their way through countless renditions of Puff the Magic Dragon to help you fall asleep.
- Remember that the woman who needs help carrying her potted plants in every winter is the same woman who carried each of you around (even though you were plenty big to walk) because my hands were full with the new baby.
- Remember that this couple, who sometimes bickers over nothing, has been together for over 50 years. They have weathered loss, illness, and death. They have embraced the better and accepted the worse. And though their patience might sometimes be short, they still kiss each other goodnight.
- Remember that your grandparents are funny.
- They are smart.
- They are generous.
They are people who have lived full and interesting lives, and the best part of their lives has been loving their children and each one of you.
And that will never change, no matter how old they are.
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