In Australia, it’s Grandparents Day this Sunday 28 October. It’s not a very big thing here but our church celebrated a few years ago by asking everyone to bring photos of their grandparents. Grandparents were invited to bring their grandchildren and grandchildren were invited to bring their grandparents. At the start of the service everyone got into small groups to share stories of their grandparents. We also gave all the grandparents a handout about how they can pass on their faith to their grandchildren.
This year’s theme for Grandparents Day is ‘Their Stories, Our Communities’. The Queensland Government site, suggests taking time to reflect on the knowledge, culture, history, practical skills, stories or insights your grandparents have passed on to you. I thought I’d share a few stories of my grandparents.
One of my grandfathers died 2 weeks before I was born and the other died when I was about 9, but both of my grandmothers lived until I was an adult with my own children. Even though I didn’t grow up in Brisbane where my grandmothers lived, I benefited from the impact they had on my life.
The memories of my Grandad are of things like flicking our arms and telling us that a mosquito was biting us, as he then gently hit us to get the ‘mosquito’. I also remember choking on a lolly when I was about 6 and my grandfather turning me upside down and whacking me on the back.
My Grandma liked telling stories. On my birthday every year she would share how she came across from the Ekka to the hospital to see if I’d been born & my father telling her “It’s a girl!”. Many times I heard the story of the 1974 Brisbane floods and how my grandparents were travelling back from visiting us at Barcaldine and were able to pass cars stopped on the highway because of flood waters, as they had a higher vehicle. When I have ginger I often think of my Grandma’s story of when she was a little girl and being offered ginger for the first time, taking the biggest piece and then having to rush to find some water!
My brother and I often stayed with Grandma during the holidays or she would come and stay with us, especially when our parents were both working. If my brother & I were sharing some food item she would get one of us to cut and the other to choose which slice they wanted. My mother probably did this as well & I did the same when my children were younger. I’ve shared in an earlier post about my Grandma passing on a love of doing puzzles such as logic puzzles and cryptic crosswords. I’ve inherited her scrabble board game which has been so well used that some of the letters have been rubbed off the tiles & handwritten back on. I now enjoy playing Words with Friends online which if she played I’m sure at times would say that they don’t know the rules of scrabble! In the earlier post I also shared about her passing on her faith to me. I can remember going with others from her church to sing Christmas carols at Nursing Homes.
My Gran was from Scotland and to us she always had a Scottish accent. To her family back in Scotland she had developed an Australian accent. She would talk about the cooker (stove), taking snaps (photos) and if we came out of the water shivering after swimming she would say that we needed a chittering-bite (a hard biscuit or something to stop your teeth from chattering). New Year was a big thing for her. Every year she would have a big extended family lunch on New Years Day. We would have roast pork & trifle. I can remember being at Gran’s on New Year’s Eve and Dad going outside so that he could ‘first foot’ her house.
Gran, during much of my childhood, ran a home typing and duplicating business. She would type up assignments or documents for people on an electric typewriter and print off fliers, brochures or other documents for people. Often when we would stay with her on holidays we would get small jobs like stamping envelopes or folding things for her. She did teach me some shorthand but I can’t say that I remember any of it & it’s not really a skill that we need these days. Though it may have been helpful for taking lecture notes at university. She also attempted to teach me knitting but I was good at gaining stitches & never really mastered it.
My children are fortunate to still have all 4 of their grandparents and they grew up living only a few suburbs away from both sets of grandparents. Studies show that having a close relationship with grandparents benefits both the grandchildren and the grandparents. They have a good relationship with all of their grandparents, mainly because they see them often.
Generally my children still join us for our weekly dinner at my parents house. My daughter will sometimes stay longer to do the cryptic crossword puzzle in The Big Issue with her Grandma which they both usually buy. I’m sure my daughter buys it now partly because her Grandma has talked about it so much over the years.
My children see the other set of grandparents at church and at other times. My daughter used to love sitting in church and have Grandma stroke her back when she was younger. When she’s at church now she’ll still often sit next to Grandma. Grandma used to give them peppermints or mentos to suck on in church. Many other church children also came to see ‘Grandma Ross’ to get a peppermint as well.
Both of my children will visit their grandparents without us. Recently my daughter was picking something up for me & was near Grandma & Grandpa’s house. She visited them on her way home and stayed for about an hour and a half.
How have your grandparents impacted you? Do you celebrate Grandparents Day?