It is early enough in the day that the sun is not yet showing its face. The house is so quiet that I can hear the refrigerator humming. The clock is chiming six times and the family has just left for the airport. After almost a week of busy family socializing, our son and grandchildren are going back to their lives in the north country as we remain in ours in the south. It has been a good visit, probably one of our best visits to date. I think about this now as I sip my coffee and reminisce over their time here. What made this particular visit so special? Well, for one thing, the girls are now old enough at 10 and 13 for us to relate to on an almost equal basis. They are far more mature than I ever was at their age. We can chalk that up to good parenting and modern times. Because of their maturity, they do not seem to need to express themselves in exaggerated ways as so many kids seem to do these days. They are comfortable communicating with people of all ages, and here again one can give credit to their parents. These girls just ooze a quiet self confidence that is a joy to be around.
For so many years I felt out of the loop as a Grandparent because of the distance that separates us. They live in the far north and we live in the far south. I have wonderful memories of living very near to my grandparents and I somehow felt I needed to replicate that, so it was disappointing to realize I would not have the same opportunities of frequent overnight sleepovers, baking cookies, flipping pancakes, and just hanging out on a whim! I remembered how much time our parents spent with our children as well and here too, I wasn’t able to keep up, once again due to geographical constraints.
But…..our parents did leave us with one thing that we could pass down to the next generation no matter where we all lived! Our beloved family game of Peruvian Rummy. We taught the girls last spring when they were 9 and 12 and it has caught on with them like a house on fire. They both LOVE this game! We love this game too, so it makes us good allies during vacation time. We played 10 games while they were here and each game consists of 5 hands so the game is not quickly over. It takes strategy and thinking on the part of each person so there is a lot of down time at the table to relax in between plays. The game certainly strengthens ones math skills with all of the counting involved. Conversation flows. Music is played on the IPad, each person picking their favorite artist so as we continue with our plays, we listen to Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Megan Traynor, Adele, and Aerosmith as the hands are played. Can you see the generational choices in the music with three generations playing cards and choosing music? We learn about each other’s taste in music and learn names of singers from times gone by and brand new chart toppers. We learn to appreciate something we had not considered before, opening up our minds to another generation’s preferences. It is fun because as the three generations play cards, each one offers thoughts on music, musicians, taking turns, strategy and so on. It is the perfect dynamic to bond. Each persons personality comes to the foreground as the game progresses and I find myself pleased to see how honest and generous and patient these girls are with each other and the rest of us. They laugh when they win a hand and commiserate with another person playing who has a bad hand and is “smoked” or “skunked” (game talk for losing big). But, we all know that we get another chance in the next hand to redeem ourselves, so we plod along!
It has been a good visit! Grandma did manage to cook some foods they seemed to love. We had a fire in our outdoor fireplace, we hung out on the giant hammock chair, we lounged in the outdoor hot tub, and we played lots and lots of cards! A simple truth is that we are not our own Grndparents from long ago. We are just who we are in this day and age, and these memories will be THEIR memories, not recycled memories from long ago! Their grandfather, my husband, is every bit as good of a grandfather as he was a father and that is saying something. I have long admired his loving and gentle ways with our children and now admire his ways with our Grandchildren. Our son has become just like his father and I can feel my heart swell. How did I get so lucky as to fall in the midst of all of this?
So, the moral of this story? Enjoy your good memories from long ago. Take them out and savor them whenever you feel the need to be close to someone you once loved who is no longer here. But, for now, all we really have is today, and we should make the most of it without comparisons or expectations built on the foundations of the past. WE will be the Grandparents in the memories of our children and grandchildren someday…so it is wise to make memories that are as unique to them as we are. One just never knows what it is that our Grandchildren will hold near and dear to their hearts. But there is one thing that is sure. It is in how you make them feel loved when they are with you which they will keep close to their heart all their life. It seems that our legacy may just be in the sound of shuffling cards and I am o.k. with that!