In Memory of Grandma Shirley: Grandparenting as Vocation

This past Sunday some of my friends and neighbours celebrated Grandparents’ Day. Yes, there is such a thing as Grandparents’ Day! it’s a day on which we celebrate and honour the special people we call Grandma and Grampa OR Nana and Poppa OR Gran and Grandad OR Oma and Opa OR whatever special names we call them. Usually this in an older person, normally but not always the parent of our parent.

For example, our children became very attached to a very dear older friend in our first congregation, whom they called Grandma Shirley. She was a wonderful grandmother to them, and celebrated all their birthdays and Christmas celebrations and graduations and never missed an opportunity share her love for them. She looked after them when they were small and watched them grow up with joy. After my own mother died in 1996, her devotion to them became especially important, even to my husband, whose own parents lived across the ocean in Scotland and could not often visit. When Grandma Shirley died four years ago this month, we were all heartbroken.

Today a wonderful book arrived in the mail: The Spirituality of Grandparenting by  Ralph Milton with Beverley Milton. I have just started to read it, but so far I am entranced! And I don’t even have grandchildren! A few ideas from the Miltons stand out even from the first pages:

— Grandparenting is a vocation, a calling: the grandparent’s spiritual vocation is to delight in one’s grandchildren.

— Grandparents come in a variety of  shapes and sizes and many styles and kinds, but they have one thing in common: a relationship between older adults and children.

— Grandparenting can be great fun and deeply rewarding; but it isn’t always a happy relationship and it doesn’t fulfill all of a grandparent’s needs or all of the grandchild’s needs!

— The spirituality of grandparenting is more than a nice warm feeling and more than being able to share your religious beliefs; it’s more about praying for or with your grandchildren.

— Spiritual grandparenting is about learning the art of trust from our grandchildren, a lot like the trust we need to have in God.

I am looking forward to reading more about the spirituality of grandparenting in this wonderful book. Why don’t you order your copy too and join me on the journey? Even if, like me, you do not have grandchildren, you can learn a lot about spirituality in the second half of life from this beautiful testament to grandparenting. And who knows, maybe God is calling you to be a surrogate grandparent to someone on your street or in your faith community who is hungering for the wise, warm, unconditionally loving care of a grandparent — just like our kids’ adopted Grandma Shirley!





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