Some of us realize that circumstances have always created the need for grandparents to step into the void when their children are unable or unwilling to care for their offspring.
Brandon Gaille indicates on the website “Father Matters” that “Across the United States more than 13 million children are living in homes with their grandparents.”
The reasons for this phenomenon are diverse and at times convoluted. When young teens have children, they are at times ill-prepared financially and emotionally to be parents. There are other issues: death, drug addiction, divorce, incarceration, military deployment, mental illness, physical disabilities, poverty. Some grandparents fear seeing their grandchildren placed in a foster care system that may be riddled with problems and opt to become parents to their grandchildren.
As I searched “grandparents raising grandchildren,” I learned about the problems that may exist for both the grandparents and the grandchildren and the myriad support avenues as we acknowledge that this is our problem as a nation and it is not going to vanish as much as we ignore it and might wish it to just disappear. An example of support is the web site for SGRG (Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren) which has its next virtual meeting on Nov. 16, 2021. The public is invited to access the session.
This past week, I was overwhelmed and emotionally touched when one of my college students presented a eulogy to her grandmother, Brenda Reed Carol, who played a major role in raising her. This student is studying to be a therapist for children and adolescents and is raising her 7-year-old daughter alone.
Her eulogy was entitled “Seasons Change.” I want to share excerpts with you, and I believe that all of us, especially grandparents, will realize, again, the role we play in our grandchildren’s lives.
“Trees show us spring to fall, seasons which help us consider the meaning of life and death. As the weather changes, these trees illuminate our roles and the roles of others in our lives. I observe the most minor details with the seasonal changes that average people may not even care to watch because of the woman who showed me that each thing has a purpose and with a purpose comes their worth or their meaning.
“This woman was my grandmother who not only played the role of savior in my life but who also was one of the only persons who took the time to teach me anything. My grandma was a mother to me. She represented sunshine, and the color yellow was her aura. A tiny solar-powered sunflower danced on the dashboard of her car.
“My mother and father were never present in my life. When I was a few months old, they took different paths from each other and from me.
“When my dad would tell me he would come to see me and would never show up, I knew I could always count on my grandmother in place of him. I always respected how she handled things such as this because I know it broke her heart as much if not more than mine.
“She inspired me to be a better person and did not do so out of a sense of ill-conceived perfectionism: she did it by taking the most important imperfect parts of herself and embracing them to their fullest.
“Regardless of the opinions of the crowd, she always chose to walk her path, even if it meant sacrificing more or having to be patient at times when other would itch to leap.
“I will never forget the aromatic crisp and clean smell of lavender of my grandmother. She had a way of filling a room with the most subtle, comforting, and relaxing vibes, and I hope to someday be at least half the woman she was to me to the ones I love.
“My grandmother is not on this earth anymore, but she will forever live in the hearts of others because of her genuine kindness, love and respect for them. She would not want me to mourn her death but rather to celebrate her life and as the seasons change physically or emotionally, she always fought to feel alive and for those around her to feel alive. too.”
To all those grandparents who parent for short periods or for years, know that some understand the importance of what you are doing, and those grandchildren are blessed to have you in their lives.
Vivian B. Blevins. Ph.D., a graduate of The Ohio State University, served as a community college president for 15 years in Kentucky, Texas, California, and Missouri before returning to Ohio to teach telecommunication employees from around the country and students at Edison State Community College and to work with veterans.