For the first eight years of my life, we lived just minutes away from my grandparents in Brooklyn.
Every Sunday, we drove to my paternal grandmother for lunch, and then to my maternal grandparents for dinner. Yes, we ate a lot! There was always a large group of relatives at both apartments, and it was just normal to spend the day with them, crowded, loud and wonderful.
My dad would tell me — 45 minutes before we were leaving — to “start my goodbyes,” as this always took a while, and my grandmother had to have several rounds of hugs and kisses. I do, too.
She would then follow us to the elevator and watch us go down through the tiny glass window that appeared as the door shut, blowing kisses until we couldn’t see her anymore. We’d go down as she appeared to float upwards. She was magical, and it’s a memory I still smile about.
Now, as my grandchildren grow up and start their own lives, Grandpa and I try very hard to keep in touch regularly, with visits, emails, cards, phone calls, social media and text messages. My “Bubby” would be totally confused by all this. She hardly talked on the phone, except for answering my morning calls to say hello before school.
Some of our precious gang live close-by, but several are in far-away lands, like Europe and the East Coast. Checking the clock to make sure I don’t text or call my grandson in Germany at an ungodly hour was a bit of a challenge at first, but we’ve now got this down pat.
My 11-year-old in the Southeast is a very easy-to-please young man. Packages with little goodies and trinkets from our trips thrill him to the point of gleeful laughter and joy. My daughter videos him opening each treasure as he smiles and yells, “Thank you soooo much, Grandma and Grandpa!”
I go to the local Postal Annex, get an all-you-can-fit box from my buddy, Casey, and jam in as much as I can. They say, if it fits, it ships, and I get my money’s worth. They offer to help me stuff it, but it has become an artful challenge that I’ve fought and conquered.
Each time we go anywhere, I check for postcards and keep a stack handy to mail out every few weeks or so. They could be purchased or glommed from a restaurant, hotel or any place that has them. He has received these cards from lots of other countries and many U.S. states. We started this years ago, and it just stayed our personal thing between him and me since he was a toddler. I was touched and thrilled to see every one of them Scotch-taped to the bureau in his bedroom when we visited.
As I write this piece, I am looking at a fresh stack of cards we just recently got on our last trip. I know he enjoys receiving each one as much as I enjoy sending them to him. Let’s hope this continues for many years to come.
Having loved ones you can physically wrap your arms around is wonderful, and I look forward to visits and those adorable videos I receive when a package arrives or when a milestone is met. In fact, just a few minutes ago I had to take a moment to watch the most recent videos I received. He took great delight in the latest box of fun.
Those of us who grew up in the non-technical age would run to the mailbox every day, looking for anything with our name on it. Birthdays were especially exciting, looking for birthday cards a few days before and then up to one or two days after the occasion. I still enjoy picking out cards for them — as well as receiving them — as opposed to finding only the typical ad, addressed ever-so-personally to “Current Occupant.” No wonder he enjoys these little acts of grandparental love.
It would be very nice to live close-by to everyone we love — friends and family alike — but putting forth the effort to keep in touch with the ones you care about is the key. I guess technology makes it so much easier, though I would still love to see my grandmother and her magical soaring elevator again. Time flies, and I don’t want to miss anything!
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.