It rained here all weekend, which for this area is very unusual.
After all, it’s May in California, and the clouds were not getting the message that it’s time for sunshine, warm weather and clear skies. As I looked out my window, ready to be slightly annoyed, I heard the phone ring, and it was one of my grandsons calling from Tennessee.
Immediately, I began to enjoy the steady sound of the rain, along with my slightly darkened living room. I stopped my indoor chores and plopped myself down on the couch to spend some time on the phone with him. We talked for over half an hour about everything and anything, and I realized just how important that relationship is.
The generation gap between this old hippie and my sweet millennial did not apply as we chatted away about life. I consider myself extremely lucky that he keeps me involved and feels free to talk about any subject with me. This is true for all of the grands, and I treasure every call or visit.
Grandparents and great-grandparents should always be there to listen when these children and young adults reach out for support and encouragement. They should be comfortable to share their feelings without fear of judgment or chastisement. If you read my resume, it is based solely on the grandparent handbook.
Of course, there is not really one of these books, nor do I have a resume at this point, but if there was, it would reiterate that, I am sure.
The interesting part of the grandchild and grandparent relationship is that there is not a lot of difference between us at all. At his age, he is finding his way through the combination of school, work and living away from home. At that age, I did too. We spoke about relationships, what he is really looking for in his future and how the person he will spend his life with should be more than just a pretty face. His thoughts, but I concurred, of course. I knew that too, and even though Grandpa was much more than just a pretty face, he was indeed awfully handsome (he still is).
My grandson brought up finances and how being on his own for the most part is a juggling act from paycheck to paycheck. He has his first apartment, which means rent, utilities, food and car expenses just to mention the basics. I too, had my first apartment around his age and could totally empathize. He asked advice about investing when he saves up enough for it to make sense, while assuring me he has been socking money away for his future. Since he was a small child, we always told him to spend a little, save a lot.
I had wonderful grandparents. They spoiled me as much as they could, but I never doubted the love and protection they afforded me. I felt safe with them, unconditionally. My grandmother would take my hand, and in hers would be a few dollars.
She would whisper to me, “Here’s some spending money, don’t tell your grandfather.”
He would then do the same thing five minutes later, and I can assure you, they both knew what the other was doing. It was a sweet game, but I was certainly not going to say a thing. The grandchildren they had were their world, and we felt it every time they hugged us.
I try to emulate them as much as possible. I want the grandchildren to know that I am here for them no matter what. I hope they all know that all they have to do is call and I am there. It’s in that job description that I mentioned and I take it very seriously.
Many of my peers have been blessed with grandchildren. I see dozens of posts on Facebook from my grandma friends and grandpas too. These are the posts that I enjoy the most, since it is pure unconditional love that promotes the dozens of pictures and videos. We all need to do our job as grandparents – not to smother, but to be there. Not to intrude, but to catch them when they start to fall. Not to disrupt their lives, but to ease the growing pains and listen with both ears and our one heart. Not to overstay our welcome, but to enjoy the moments that we have with them.
We are their comfort zone. A phone call or a visit or a card means the world to a grandparent, and most of the time, that is all we need in return.
When this grandchild was a little boy, he told me that a grandparent has a few jobs. They are there to love, kiss, hug, spoil and repeat when necessary. It was the best set of job requirements I ever had and still do.
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with senior care and advocacy groups. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.