How Memories of My Grandmothers Affect My Grandmothering
Remembering My Grandmothers
Before I grasped the concept of God, my maternal grandmother was my only refuge and strength, my very present help in time of trouble. She was always there.
My paternal grandmother was a different image of God with a standing order for me to ask and receive, seek and find, knock and watch the door open. She provided for me generously.
Now that their granddaughter (yours truly) has become a grandmother, I am determined to pass on the love principles my grandmothers taught me.
(1) The Vision of Womanhood
I want my granddaughter to be glad that she’s a girl; but I want her to determine her career path according to her passion and potential, rather than her gender.
My granddaughter accepts and adores my present image since she has no reference to who I was in my youthful, livelier days.
The vision of womanhood I present to her is branded with characteristics I saw in my grandmothers and applied to my own life. Among other features:
- Self-worth as an individual and as a female;
- Self-respect evidenced by my speech, my appearance and my conduct;
- Positive, helpful attitude toward other females, demonstrated in my interaction with her mother and other women in our space.
Healthy, confident womanhood will just be the foundation on which she grows into the best achiever she can be.
(2) The Sound of Love
Grandparents and grandkids profoundly affect one another – just because they exist! This bond is probably the most simple form of love that exists.** — Arthur Kornhaber, M.D., The Foundation for Grandparenting.
My mother and I lived with her mother, and I can still hear my grandmother praying that her granddaughters become “corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.” It is a quote from Psalm 144 in the King James Version, the only one we had back then.
It was not just the words (because I didn’t understand them). It was the earnestness and the sense of something extraordinary which sounded like love. I wanted to deserve that love and whenever she praised me or defended me, I renewed my commitment to make her proud.
Thanks to modern technology, distance will have no bearing on when and how often my granddaughter hears my voice. She will hear me call her name; sing a song; and as a tribute to my grandmother’s memory, pray a prayer. Whichever way I choose, I want my words to speak love and affirmation.
(3) The Fragrance of Family
If you have ever been attracted by a person's scent, it may be their genes you smell. - Jeff Carpenter (ABC News 1/2/2002)
Two strangers may bond quickly and discover afterwards that they are biologically related. When that happens some say (at least, in the Caribbean they do) that they “smell the blood,” suggesting that relatives have a similar scent. If that were true, it might account for special bonding between grandbabies and grandparents.
Within that bond, there is a sense (perhaps a scent) which provides clues of what love expression serves each child best. It reveals how to satisfy the security and self-worth of each one. That is why, I believe, that regardless of the competition and jealousy which develop among siblings and cousins, grandmothers know how to make each one feel like the favorite.
May my granddaughter always sense the fragrance of favor, faith and everything else family in my company.
(4) The Flavor of Wisdom
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. – Proverb
In other words, if the story does not make sense to Grandma it is because she has the insight to discern that there is something missing or not true about it. Her first concern is to help the granddaughter sort out the facts. Grandmother’s wisdom in loving, listening, supporting and guiding – especially when it comes to the facts of life, comes from various sources:
- Lessons learned from experiences of naïvety and folly;
- Hands on training in parenting the granddaughter’s parent;
- Examples from her own parents and grandparents;
- Continuing- education efforts to master the art of grandparenting.
My granddaughter may not understand wisdom at the start, but when she does, I want to be an example of that virtue. It always thrills me when folks mention that something about me reminds them of my grandmother’s wisdom. My aim is to establish a girl-friendly relationship in which my granddaughter feels comfortable to be herself, cry, laugh, jump or cuddle with the assurance that my response will be appropriate.
(5) The Touch of Heaven
Grandmas and grandpas are grand-angels. Terri Guillemets
I remember my paternal grandmother sitting me up on her lap and cuddling when everyone else thought I was too grown for that. It was a touch of heaven, having my secret need supplied without having to request it.
I shall attempt to touch my granddaughter with more than my hands--with the gleam in my eye expressing awe of being in her presence, with laughter and smiles to evoke her joy, with heartfelt interest revealing genuine love and care.
I intend to deliver the touch of heaven in my hugs, every chance I get.
Grandmother Portrait Poll
Which of the four grandmother portraits on this page best reminds you of your grandmother? Feel free to say why in the comments.
*Granka, Julie: The Tech Museum of Innovation, Relatedness (11/02/2015)
**Parenthood: The Grandparent-Grandchild Bond Copyright 2015 - Dominion Enterprises)
Questions & Answers
© 2015 Dora Weithers