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Opinion: Honoring Grandparents On Their Day

Today is National Grandparents Day, but perhaps grandparents should be honored everyday.

For some grandparents, everyday is National Grandparents Day and there is no need for a calendar to remind them. 

Resident and grandfather Earl Sandvigen says every time he sees his grandchildren is a cause for celebration.

“You don’t think that you can love anyone more than your children," Sandvigen said. "Until you have grandchildren.”

And in a lot of cases, the feeling is mutual.

“I enjoy being around my grandparents just as much as they enjoy being around me. Part of that joy is the way they make me feel whenever I’m with them,” John Wallace told Patch. “I will never forget the way their faces light up each time they see me.”  

Newport Beach resident and former State Senator Marian Bergeson says memories of her grandparents have lasted a lifetime.

“I don’t think any of us can’t relate in some way to either having grandparents or having grandchildren,” Bergeson said. "I know for certain how important it’s been in my life and I remember visiting my grandparents as a little girl.”

She recalled what a treat it was to hear their stories and history, and to be able to carry on that legacy with her own children and now grandchildren.

National Grandparents Day, a secular holiday, has been celebrated in the United States since 1978. It was through the lobbying efforts of Marian McQuade of Oak Hill, West Virginia that the first Sunday after Labor Day of each year be proclaimed National Grandparents Day. The statute’s purpose is to honor grandparents, give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer.

While the intention is honorable, National Grandparents Day can also be a sad day for many grandparents and grandchildren. For a grandchild, losing a grandparent as a result of death is never easy. They miss them, but still the memories are there to somehow comfort them and help process the finality of the inevitable circle of life.

But, there is no reasonable comprehension when a grandchild and grandparent are cut off from one another as a result of family feuding, and therefore leaving no comfort to be found. For disenfranchised grandparents, National Grandparents Day dredges up far too much pain and heartbreak and may best go unacknowledged. For the grandchild, who has no voice and no choice in the matter, there is a loss of affection. Along with that, there is a lost opportunity to grasp that dose of confidence a kid feels when that grandparent lights up whenever they enter a room.

Judy Wiley knows these feelings all too well. She will always be a grandparent to Mathew and Megan, even though she hasn’t seen them for six years. When her daughter was killed by a drunk driver the father took the two children out of state to begin a new life that didn’t include grandparents.

Wiley's greatest heartache stems from concern about the children’s feelings of abandonment.

“I wonder what they must be thinking and I’m sure they feel that I don’t care about them anymore,” Wiley said.

Margaret Mead says those who lack this kind of relationship, are missing out on a big part of life.

“Everyone needs to have access both to grandparents and grandchildren in order to be a full human being,” Mead said.

So what will you do to honor your grandparents on National Grandparents Day?

Lana Larsen, a Newport Beach resident, said today she and her husband are pouring over cards and anticipating telephone calls from their out-of-state grandkids.

Grammaloves2girls September 10, 2012 at 04:23 PM
This article is insightful and sincerely touches on a subject that is all too familiar to way more grandparents throughout the country than people realize. Susan has a way of relating this gut wrentching emotional trauma that grandparents and grandchildren endure in a thoughtful and personal manner. She has become the "pioneer" of advocating for both grandparents and grandchildren alike to bring awareness to our society of a problem that thirty years ago probably only existed in a handful of families. It now has become somewhat of the norm when parents decide to "punish" grandparents and grandchildren by keeping them at bay from each other. Maybe society, families, extended families and freinds who are aware that this scenario exists within their own core group might think about staging "interventions" or get involved in speaking with both sides as a mediator as families did long ago, we would not be facing some of the long term effects on the children such as depression, drug and alcohol abuse, etc., and the emotional effects on the grandparents by gently getting involved to help resolve family disputes. I know that thirty plus years ago, if someone would have told my grandmother she would no longer be "permitted" to see her grandchildren, that little scenario would have lasted only as long as it would have taken the other aunts and uncles to arrive and put an end to such nonsense. THANK YOU Susan, for your tireless efforts to find a solution to Peace for all.
Susan Hoffman September 10, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Dear Grammaloves2girls, You are welcome, and I sincerely appreciate the kind words. You are correct, a no win situation for families and also times have changed, with a different way of doing things: get rid of person rather than problem.

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