May "Senior Sense"- Creating a Legacy that Endures: Grandparents Connecting with Grandchildren
"Senior Sense" Newsletter, May Edition
“Mom, look at Grandma. She looks so pretty.” My twelve-year-old daughter discovered a picture of my mom in a box filled with stacks of photographs. With her black hair loose, my mom stood next to a light-blue Ford Maverick on a small Texas street. “What was she doing, Mom? How old is she in the picture?” The questions boomeranged in our living room, as my daughter’s curiosity about my mom’s beginnings filled the air. She expressed a need to know her grandmother’s history and stories. Her words lingered in my head and pushed me to consider a question I couldn’t forget – What is the best way to create an enduring legacy that allows grandchildren to connect with the history of their grandparents?
One in six Americans in the United States live in a multigenerational household. With this trend, the need for grandchildren and grandparents to connect and to have conversations about legacies becomes even more important. Here are some practical tips I learned about keeping the legacy conversation alive in our home:
- The importance of stories. My mom often visits for long periods of time. During her stay, I encourage my daughter to ask her grandmother about her favorite foods, things she enjoyed as a child and her memories of India. Often times, one question spurs a conversation about another topic and my daughter learns about her grandmother’s history through their dialogue together.
- Engage in a hobby together. When my mother visits, she takes my daughter out for a shared activity. They have lunch together and paint pottery at a local studio. I leave during this time to offer them an opportunity to create memories only they can share. Sometimes they also love cooking together, making easy and fun meals.
- Sending letters and cards. During Mother’s Day, my daughter sends her grandmother a card and writes her own special message. Sometimes the two will exchange text messages on the weekend. These sweet notes are ones they can keep and revisit in the future.
- Playing card games or board games together. My mom taught my daughter how to shuffle a card deck. When they play UNO together, my daughter’s eyes always light up, the look of admiration and glee registering on her face. Often while playing cards together, my mom will share a brief piece of her history.
- Watching a movie together. While visiting, movie night is a fun way for my daughter and mom to bond. They laugh together as they share popcorn and although it is an ordinary activity, the next day they are still reminiscing over the characters and plot.
- Helping her grandmother. Twice a year we visit my mom to help declutter her apartment. My daughter clears out books or pots that my mom doesn’t need. It is a tangible way for my daughter to understand what it is like for my mom to live on her own. At the end of the day, we hire a housekeeper to help do a deep cleaning.
- Relying on technology. My mom and daughter often FaceTime one another during birthdays or special occasions. This helps with keeping the bond alive and makes my mom feel as if she is a part of her granddaughter’s life, despite the distance.
It is rewarding to witness my daughter and mom creating their special memories together. Through shared activities, conversations and one-on-one time, they learn a little more about each other. These ordinary moments carve out a lasting legacy not only for my mom, but for my daughter too.
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