Grandparents’ Day is celebrated this year on September 13. Perhaps that gives you pause regarding your older friends and family members and the quality and quantity of time you’ve spent talking with them.
Time with older generations is a learning experience to be treasured. Their life experiences can be more fascinating than you could imagine in many cases. Their stories are worth hearing and later sharing with future generations.
Communicate with the older generation (pre-baby boomer) in the most comfortable style for them — which is not likely to include electronics/technology. Encourage children (and frankly, yourself) to put away cell phones, laptops, iPods, etc. when visiting. Encourage them to share their stories of growing up, what they did as kids, what school was like (did they walk up snowy hills in hip-deep snow going and coming!?), how they fell in love, what they did as young families . . . perhaps even record these sessions. That way, they can share their stories with others in their own voices.
What are some starter questions to use?
- What was your favorite toy? Your kids will be fascinated at the things their grands or great-grands found to play with. Swings on tree limbs, homemade dolls, jacks, and ropes over creeks — not a mechanical anything in sight!
- Where did you go to school? A one-room schoolhouse? Imagine that. Home-schooled? We’ve all heard a lot of talk about that lately!
- When was the first time they saw a television . . . or had one in their home? Baby boomers have lots of memories of that. Of course, eventually, the term “couch potato” came into our culture!
- What was your favorite meal? How did you prepare food? Imagine meals cooked from scratch several times a day (without microwaves or fast food) . . . makes your mouth water, doesn’t it? Nobody cooks like Grandma!
Spend a day in their memories.
Spend an afternoon looking through photo albums — you know, pictures not on a cell phone! Those can bring back long-forgotten stories; all you need to do is simply listen and drink in their history.
In this age of interest in DNA heritage, why not ask older relatives about where the family came from, and how they got here? History is to be shared down through generations. Valued. Respected.
Older generations could educate us on many things that are becoming increasingly important these days (home gardens, preserving and canning food, becoming more self-sufficient, etc.).
So, visit older friends and relatives. Admittedly, things are difficult in this COVID-19 world, but get creative! Visit through a window if possible, or a phone call. Or, if technology IS an option, call through FaceTime or Zoom so that togetherness can still be experienced even through quarantine and social distancing. Even if your loved one doesn’t use technology, someone in an assisted living home can help!
Children and older folks share a bond that is lovely to see. Even if you don’t have family nearby, you can arrange an adopted grandparent situation with a retirement community or perhaps adopt an elderly member at church. You’ll be blessed all around!