I have such fond memories of my grandparents:
Grandma, always smiling, with her perfect bouffant, ever changing in all manner of muted candy floss colours and always referring to me as “chucky egg”.
Summer holidays at their seaside homes, mooching around in rock pools and returning with all kinds of obscure ‘gifts’ just for them. The once cherished plaque glinting in the sunroom, now lost – a commemoration of her Irish father’s tragic demise during her early childhood in WW1. Poring through photographs of treasured trips to their beloved Switzerland. Izal toilet paper – the distinct medicinal smell, the scratchiness! *winces*
The quintessentially English breakfast table; toast slathered with honey, lace tablecloth, bone china tea pot, matching cups and saucers. The tea time burgers in gravy, congealing for hours in the ovens warming tray. Intended as a treat but consumed reluctantly and solely out of politeness. Oh, those burgers! *shudders*
Gentle grandpa always humming a nameless tune. The packet of Fishermen’s friends. Daily walks on the seafront, no matter what the weather, little hand safe in big hand. Confident, astute grandpa, dapper in suit and trilby. The grandpa who said “blood and stomach pills” in preference to cursing.
Fishing in the lake at the back of grandpa’s house. Bowling greens. Huge bouquets of knitbone (comfrey), dried and applied as a herbal remedy.
Oh, writing this brings such nostalgia…and melancholy. Smells, feelings, memories, regrets of never being old enough or wise enough to express how much I appreciated them. Sadness of not having the opportunity to know them in my adulthood.
I wished I could go back in time and soak it all up again. Soak the essence of them up again. I was so blessed to be so loved.
And now there’s the memories of Hannah’s grandparents:
Tiny baby Hannah, gently cradled on her grandpa’s lap, whilst he softly regaled tales of his youth….and those funny, funny made up stories.
Thursday afternoons after lunch made by mum, lay snoozing on the sofa with my baby at my old family home. Warm.
Watching Hannah’s grandma take such pleasure bathing, feeding and playing with her….and seeing that glint in Hannah’s eyes – an awareness there of her being so precious that she could probably get away with anything if she wanted to.
Grandpa, spending hours in his garage, tinkering, fixing things, making stuff for her. An occasional tear, surreptitiously swept away.
Hannah was, and is, blessed too. For all four of them, no-one in the family ever did, or ever will, come close to the adoration they had/have for this little girl, their only granddaughter.
I know that I’ve been incredibly lucky that all of these people have been in my life, our life. Sadly, others aren’t so fortunate, because not everyone who has a child with additional needs has parents who can accept that their grandchild is extra special. How sad. How heartbreakingly sad.
Rifts can ensue. Relationships may break down. Those memories that could’ve been created are never, ever made. For me, out of any family member, no-one, but no-one, could come even close to the relationship a grandchild can potentially have with their grandparents. It’s special. Unique.
Equally though, in some instances, grandparents take over the primary role or provide the vast majority of care for their grandchildren…and that can come with a number of challenges.
Naturally, most people want the best for their children and grandchildren. When they see them hurting, they hurt too. They instinctively want to fix it. But sometimes, sadly, that hurt can never be fixed, just alleviated a little.
There are undoubtedly many benefits of being a grandparent; having the time to spend with the grandchildren that maybe you didn’t have with your own kids and after enjoying carefree times of trips to the playground, walks and sticky cuddles, you can hand them back at the end of the day and go put your feet up in your own, clean, clutter free, quiet home. Bliss!
But it’s perhaps much less easy for grandparents of children with additional needs. Those anticipated days and trips and sleepovers don’t always come to fruition. There may be feelings of helplessness and despair and grief for the loss of a life and relationship once excitedly anticipated. The worry may be constant. The desire to help out as much as possible probably never fades.
So, if you’re a grandparent of a child with additional needs, know this:
You’re probably valued. Really valued. Even if we’re so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we don’t always express it.
Thank you for going the extra mile. For trying to empathise, for trying to understand. For your research. For your non-judgemental approach. For your quiet support without any agenda. For that unconditional positive regard. For hiding your own hurt. For all those caring deeds, like washing the dishes or hanging the laundry out or doing the ironing. For your prayers. For sometimes taking the pressure off just that little bit. For being there in good times and the not so good. For the phone calls and texts. For your genuine unwavering concern. For making that four hour round trip bus ride just to be near your grandchild in the ICU. For the things you spotted in the shop that may come in handy one day…for all the thoughtfulness. For celebrating achievements. For sprinkling a little stardust. For the fun and overwhelming adoration and love. For everything. I know it’s probably not easy for you too. And whilst those memories you may’ve initially anticipated making may never come to fruition, know that the memories you are making mean everything and more.
So, whilst we may not always say it or show it, thank you!
You are loved ❤
“A grandmas name is little less in love than is the doting title of a mother”
So, that’s all for this post my lovelies.
Many thanks, as always, for stopping by and reading my ramblings.
Until next time…
This post is dedicated to Hannah’s five grandparents – yes, five, not a typo. Three gone, but never forgotten. I hope, that wherever they are, they’re watching over their granddaughter and keeping her in their prayers ❤
p.s. Here’s a link to a resource from Contact a Family. I found it useful when Hannah was born. I’m sharing in the hope it’s of some use to someone else. xx