As I was taking a leisurely walk today, I listened to a podcast that got me thinking. The speaker explained he was taking a sobering walk through Arlington Cemetery and the thought came to him, “What do I want to be remembered for?”
Well, something in my gung ho grandma brain clicked, and I spent the morning thinking about that very question. As a grandmother, how do I want to be remembered when my grandchildren think back about their time with me? I know the things I DON’T care about being remembered for … how good of a dresser I was, my connections to important people (not that I really have any), what nice possessions I owned, or how much money I spent on them.
Through some deliberate thought, what is most important to me seemed to surface. Here are 5 things I want, as a grandma, to be remembered for…
How much I loved them
Am I the kind of grandma whose face lights up when I see my grandkids, and they can tell how excited I am to be with them? Do the words “I love you” regularly come out of my mouth? Do I look at them and truly listen to them when they talk to me? Are there lots of hugs and kisses given freely (even to older grandkids)? Do I do special things for them, like bake a cake, play games with them, or come to their dance practices, and do I tell them I do these things out of love? Do they know that there is nothing they could ever do to make me stop loving them? Do they know I am their greatest fan? I hope when they remember me they think, “My grandma sure loved me!”
I was a lot of fun to be with
One of the advantages of being a grandparent is that is is much freer than being a parent … I have little responsibility to discipline or have them do things like daily homework. This means I can focus on making our time together adventurous and memorable. Do I plan activities with them that share my talents and teach them new skills that build self-confidence, like how to bake bread or hit a baseball? Do I try to make our outings together an adventure? Have I looked at resources like this Gung Ho Grandma blog or Pinterest for ideas of activities that they would enjoy? Do I bring a Grandma Bag along when I visit? Grandma Bag post Do we do silly things together, like have tickle wars, try tongue-twisters, make up silly songs, or wear matching crazy t-shirts to the movies? Are there things that only happen with grandma, like singing a special song, having a secret handshake, going for dinner with them on their birthday, or in-jokes that only we get? Grandmothers do not have to entertain their grandkids every second they are with them (in fact I just read an article where psychologists recommend children be bored sometimes as, “Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant”), but we do want to create a bank of good, warm memories together. I hope when they remember me they think, “My grandma sure was fun to be with!”
I was a lifelong learner
I love learning new things, and I get excited about sharing what I learn with others (maybe that is why I became a teacher). I want to instill in my grandchildren a love for education and help them become life-long learners, too. Do we do activities together that will help them with reading, writing, math, or thinking skills? How to Help Raise a Reader post Do we go to places like museums, libraries, theaters, or art galleries? Do we figure out riddles, do crossword puzzles, solve Sudoku puzzles, or play Hangman together to stretch our brains? Do we share books together (maybe even have a Grandma Book Club)? Do I tell them about the new things I am learning and how excited I am about them? Have we ever taken a class together? Do I tell them the things I have learned from my travels to other countries, and share my love of other cultures (and maybe take them on a trip to somewhere new!). Do they know I believe you are never too old to learn something new and show that by example? I hope when they remember me they think, “My grandma was always learning something new.”
Family was important
The older I get, the more I realize that the only really important thing in my life is my relationships with others, and no relationships are more precious than the ones I have with my family. Do I only speak well of family members with my grandchildren? Do my grandkids see that I am always there when someone in our family needs help? Do I remember special days like birthdays and anniversaries? Do I celebrate the accomplishments of family members? Do I create a sense a pride in being part of our family? Do I tell my grandchildren stories from our family history (they love to hear stories of when their parents were little)? I hope when they remember me they think, “Family was everything to my grandma.”
I helped and served other people
We all want our grandchildren to develop kindness, empathy, and have a desire to help other people. They can learn that when they see your example, or serve others with you … and there are opportunities to do good all around us. When I see a neighbor’s need, do I take my grandchild with me to mow a lawn, walk a dog, or buy some groceries for a shut-in? Do we make a meals or bake cookies together, and then deliver them to a family who needs their day brightened? Do we plan special things to do for their family members, like a surprise birthday party for a sister, or make a quilt for their mom ? Do they see me speaking kindly to strangers I meet on the street? Do they know I volunteer in my community or church and have they served by my side? I hope when they remember me they think, “My grandma was always helping and serving others.”
I was a woman of faith
This may not apply to you personally (so you don’t have to read this section), but my faith in the Gospel of Christ is very important to me. Do my grandchildren know how my faith has made me happy and has molded my actions? Have they heard me bear my testimony or have I written it down for them to read? Do we read from the scriptures or talk about spiritual things when we are together? Do I say prayers with them before they go to bed? Do I attend important events in their lives, like baby blessings or baptisms? Do they know I am a follower of the Savior by how I treat them and others? I hope when they remember me they think, “My grandma was a woman of faith.”
Why was it good for me to go through this mental exercise as I walked this morning? Because it helped me define what is actually important to me in my associations with grandchildren. And it will make me more conscious of my words and actions … if I want to be remembered as this kind of grandma, I will have to live like this kind of grandma.
What would you most like to be remembered for as a grandma? What do you think of my list? Leave me a comment below and share your thoughts …
And if you liked the message of this blog, please share it with other grandmas!