When my seven-year old twin granddaughter, Finley, called me last week, she was insistent that I join her and her two brothers for an early-morning breakfast celebrating Grandparent’s Day. The event was being sponsored by Finley’s Oklahoma City elementary school and would include a tour of her classroom and a school assembly.
Finley and her twin brother, Noah, are in the second grade. Older brother, Asher, is in the fourth. I left home Thursday afternoon in time to pick them up from their school bus stop after school. We spent an enjoyable evening catching up, eating thin-crust pizza and playing board games.
The children’s other grandparents, Mimi and Popeye were also invited. Grandpa Chip had to work so he missed out on this special celebration. Following breakfast and touring the children’s classrooms, Finley led me outside to the playground which was ablaze with laughter and excitement.
As Finley scurried off to greet one of the teachers, I spotted a small young child sitting alone on a school bench. His head was down and, from his appearance, he seemed to be sad. As I approached, I sat down beside him and noticed tears streaming down his cheeks. It turns out his grandmother was unable to join the day’s fete. When I asked if he would allow me to share the day with him, his face lit up as a beautiful smile began to form.
My new friend, Niarobi, was in the fourth grade. Later, as the children were gathering by classes for the assembly, I introduced Niarobi to Grandmother Mimi. A former school teacher, she reinforced how special Niarobi was and that she also had to miss several of her other grandchildren’s events because of uncontrollable circumstances. He seemed to appreciate and understand that just because his grandmother couldn’t make the party, she loved him.
It wasn’t until I met this beautiful child that it dawned on me that there were undoubtedly other children in attendance whose family could not attend. As adults, we should always seize the moment to create special memories by reaching out to others. The reward is priceless. I will never forget Grandparent’s Day 2013 and my special new friend.
Grandparents Day started as a campaign in the early 1970s by a West Virginia woman named Lucille Herndon McQuade. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation, declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day.
Grandparents Day recognizes those individuals who serve not only as grandparents, but as our teachers, caregivers, friends, and confidants. They are a source of never-ending wisdom. Their stories are a link to our history.
On September 6th, President Barack Obama released a proclamation affirming the importance of grandparents in America. He stated “…Our grandparents’ generations made America what it is today. They led our Nation through times of war, heralded new ages of innovation, and tested the limits of human imagination. They challenged longstanding prejudices and shattered barriers, both cultural and scientific. In our homes and our communities, grandparents pass down the values that have led generations of Americans to live well and give back. As individuals, as families, and as a society, we have an unshakable obligation to provide the care and support our grandparents have earned. Together, let us guarantee the right of every American to live out their golden years in dignity and security.”
Many of today’s grandparents do more than the occasional spoiling of their grandkids. Statistics show that 7 million children under the age of 18 are living with their grandparents. In 2011, 2.7 million grandparents were responsible for the basic needs of at least one of their grandchildren.
Every day is an opportunity to reach out to a child, a friend, and even a stranger. Be on the lookout for these opportunities. The reward you receive and the memories you create will be priceless and the affect you may have on that individual is immeasurable.