National Grandparents Day was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in August 1978, making the Sunday after Labor Day the official day. It is a holiday that has not caught on like other holidays.
But I think every day is Grandparents Day.
My mother’s mother died when she was 16, and my father’s mother died when she was only 48. She was the mother of 18 children and died on Mother’s Day. Both of them died many years before I was thought about. My mother’s father lived with us and had since Mama and Daddy married. We loved him, but my father’s daddy was mean to us and only visited a few weeks during the year. He loved to pinch the children as hard as he could, so we tried to stay out of his reach.
I found an article that I wrote in 1998 when we had some young grandchildren. Now we have 11 ranging in age from 14 to 23.
“While pushing my 3-year-old granddaughter Amber in a shopping cart down the aisles of Wal-Mart Monday morning, I was reminded time after time by the displays that this Sunday will be Grandparents Day. I forget it unless I am reminded by the advertisements. But if you ask a grandchild, every day is Grandparents Day. Amber thought it was her day as she showed me about a hundred things that she wanted. We finally narrowed her selection to two. She picked out a set of puzzles, which she is a whiz at putting together, and a videotape called ‘DW’s Blankie.’
“Rachel Carson once said that if a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. The adult she is speaking of must surely be a grandparent. With grandchildren, once again we get to see things through the fresh, innocent and always-questioning mind of a child. To the grandchild, the grandparent is supposed to be running off Energizer batteries and never run down. We should be able to sit down on the floor and play with no trouble at all or crawl into their play cars right along with them. Bending over and pushing them for miles on their little tricycle should be a cinch! Doctors are always telling me to exercise, but they must have never had a young grandchild to play with for a few hours.
“Fortunately, we have three granddaughters and one grandson at this time. We get to spend a lot of time with each of them, and each has his or her unique personality. We are blessed to have them near so we can watch them grow and learn. Many grandparents have to hear from their grandchildren on the telephone or on the Internet. That is especially true in our military communities.
“The first six years are a child’s most formative years. They learn so much from what we say and by watching us. We are always amazed by how fast these kids pick up knowledge and are able to mimic what they see. Jerilyn, 2, was eating breakfast with us one morning, and she reached over and patted my husband’s tummy. ‘Papa, your tummy is full. You don’t need to eat any more.’ When she walked, she would poke her stomach out and walk like he did. Many times, when she hears me talking about something with concern in my voice, she looks up at me with her big brown eyes and says, ‘Grandma, just don’t worry about it.’ She doesn’t even know how true those words are.
“Keith, 6, was watching the hummingbirds dart to the feeders and drink nectar. He said, ‘Grandma, I want one of those pretty little birds for a pet in a cage. The next time we go to Keller’s Flea Market, I’ll get Daddy to buy me one.’ I said, ‘Keith, God loves the little birds so much that he likes them to be free and be able to travel from flower to flower. He does not allow them to be made into pets and caged.’ He sat there for a few moments, and I saw his little face get very sad. ‘But, Grandma, does God not like cats? ’Cause I see many of them in cages to be sold every time we go to the flea market!’ OK, Grandma, come up with an answer fast for this little fellow.
“Amber enjoys walking in the yard and garden with me. She likes to pick a flower from each bush and watch the butterflies. She counts each one and names the colors on it. Then she asked me which one is the daddy and which one is the mommy. She was with me when I bought sunflower seeds for the cardinals, and she keeps an eye on the feeder to see if they are eating them.
“Little Maegan, almost 6 months old, just gives me a great big ear-to-ear smile that lights up her eyes. It lights up my heart. She does not have to say a word as the expression on her face says it all.
“If you are fortunate enough to have little grandchildren near you, take time to enjoy them. Housework will always be there, but the little children grow up in a hurry and will be gone. Too soon, they will think they are too big to sit in your lap with their arms wrapped around you while you gently sing or read stories to them. These times are precious to you and to them. Help make some good memories for their childhood. Happy Grandparents Day every day!”