Why Seniors’ Activities Really Matter

GIFTS FROM GRANDMA

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” 
― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Wor
ks

Whether you are waiting to become a new Grandmother, you have been experimenting in the role, or you are joining the “adopt-a-grandma” program, be assured that you are a gift to the next generation!

Get Ready to Make the Most of Your Relationship with each Grandchild!

Remember the old song, “Help me make it to my Rocking Chair” recorded by B.J. Thomas in 1975? Well, YOU made it! Now, get up! There is a generation that belongs to you. Grandchildren waiting for your voice and your memories to pave the way for their understanding of what really matters in life!

rocking chair, crib, teddy bears, love and joy, the invitation is waiting for you. Inviting grandma to be present in grandchild's world.

Lesley Stahl, of 60 Minutes reminds of our new value quite succinctly in the simple phrase,

–“God gave us grandchildren

—-to make up for aging”

https://www.thespec.com/life/2017/04/23/decades-of-60-minutes-couldn-t-prepare-lesley-stahl-for-shock-and-aww-of-grandparenting.html

Connections with our children’s children build many levels of relationship. The child who never showed an interest in cooking, will be calling you for a list of those flavours you added to the sauce at Thanksgiving dinner.

When You Didn’t Think They Were Watching!

They WERE!

It’s true! One day the phone will ring and you will feel an indelible sense of reward. “Mom, how did YOU ever DO all this?” They may not have seemed like they were paying any attention, at the time. Suddenly, they think there must be some magic “way-back THEN”.

I’M not sure about back then, but may I share the magic for today? Relate to the “overwhelm”. Relate to the “fatigue”. Relate to the barely-visible but highly valued rewards. (little smiles, a warm hand to hold, a sleeping child in her own bed) Being the grandmother is so much about LISTENING!

You Will Hear the Cue!

Listen carefully

When I listen with a pen in hand, then I have a list of story-ideas that need to be shared. Stories teach. When I was young, my close family would tell lots of stories about people they knew. It could have been a relative, a neighbour or a school friend. Every story seemed to have a slightly-hidden message. I loved the stories that made everyone laugh. I loved the sound-effects my Dad made and how my Uncle seemed to make the dog talk “people words”.

The Power of Distributed Learning!

How did we get from “talking dogs” to distributed learning? Distributed learning refers to ideas, stories, and experiences that we go back to again and again. We can envision them and feel emotions that well up with. Just like the memories of my dad’s neighing horse sound, my mother’s gentle humming and my uncle’s “talking dog” wove a path in my memory. Doesn’t it sound fun?

Dr. Andrew Meltzoff from the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington explains that these details strengthen a child’s recollection and establishes long-term memory skills. Telling stories to your grandchildren not only, brings old memories back to life, it improves memory, comprehension, and builds a positive attachment that will prove crucial to the health and well-being of the child as he/she remembers, reflects and re-assesses the voices, the sounds, the pictures, the places and the “hidden” messages of the memories shared.

Professional family photo 1909 indicating heritage, family history, connection
My Great Grandparents 1909

Look at that curly hair on Grandfather, Remi! I wonder if HE could make the dog talk? It’s too bad there is no one around to fill in the details, isn’t it? We are just lucky to have a photo. Do you know how long they had to sit in 1909 in order for a photograph to be taken? They were all-dressed-up but the only smiles were in their eyes!

What would my grandchildren think about this old picture, a treasure, to be sure? They, of course, are being photographed multiple times in each pose, by cameras in the “photographers'” mobile phones. I better tell them the story of the camera, the flashbulbs, the film, the photo labs and the long wait to see what those pictures actually looked like. I don’t know about you, but in the 60’s, we only had a roll of 12 pictures on the treasured camera FOR THE WHOLE YEAR! We also had to take pictures in the daytime and outside because we only had 4 flashbulbs for the year! Now, that was budgeting, not minimalism!

EXAMPLE OF CAMERAS USED IN THE 1960'S
BLACK BOX CAMERA WITH LARGE SILVER-COLOURED FLASH "BOWL" ATTACHED ON THE SIDE.
Our Camera from 1960 IT SAT UP HIGH ON A CABINET--UNTOUCHABLE BY "ME"

Life was different then. Now that I am a Senior in society, my recollections are stories lining up to be told. I can vividly remember some delightful events and uniquely-memorable people. Even if I don’t tell my stories in order, they will still be a treasure with details, colours, maybe even music…and definitely with many SMILES! After all, stories are meant to entertain! Right?

This is a New Step

As a grandmother, it is still important to BE the mother of your adult child, who is now a parent. Let’s face it, getting to this point of the “excursion” of life has taken us over more than one hurdle. We have been lost without a map and repeatedly unboxing the changing phases of parent-child relationships without an instruction manual or YouTube how-to video. My dear friend, Marg, (a psychologist, by trade) once told me to remember that the other person is doing the best they can. Let me repeat that. THAT PERSON IS DOING THE BEST THEY CAN!

You Did THE BEST You Could Do

At THAT Time. In THOSE Circumstances

One of the best reminders among the fledgling grandmothers in my world is that we have to remember that THEY ARE DOING THE BEST THEY CAN, each day, under their circumstances. Do you remember how tired you were, as a young mom? Can you bear to think of how worried you were when:

  1. They got sick, had a temperature, or unusual spots or rashes–NO Google, just worry
  2. They learned to walk– they may fall down the stairs
  3. They learned to talk–they might remember the wrong words IN PUBLIC
  4. They went to school–ALONE, without you, with people you didn’t know
  5. They learned to swim–OR NOT–they could drown (almost)
  6. They played sports, rode horses, climbed mountains/hills/walls–could break an arm/leg
  7. They fell in love–could end up with a broken heart (more than once!)
  8. They took exams, competed for school events, gave speeches–could fail, lose, forget their words, be embarrassed, even cry or give up (until next time, of course)
  9. They went AWAY to school–will they make good friends, eat the right food, get enough sleep, stay out of “trouble” and will they achieve their goal, be prepared for a career
  10. They got jobs, fell in love, got married (or NOT), built their own homes, and now have become PARENTS!

WE worried about them and we cheered them along, supported and sometimes questioned their dreams, applauded their achievements, lived with their decisions and promoted their endeavours. It wasn’t always perfect but remember, Marg’s famous words. Each of us always did the best we could at the time in those circumstances. We MADE IT!

Congratulations on that long, exciting, story-provoking chapter of life! Now is the time to enjoy those Grandchildren. There will be chances to keep building new bonds as carefully summarized in the Psychology Today article by Sarah Epstein, LMFT, marriage and family therapist in Philadelphia, PA.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/between-the-generations/202011/5-ways-parents-and-adult-children-can-improve-their-relationship

When and Where do YOU Tell These Entertaining Stories?

Your stories and the messages they carry will make a lasting impact. Some unrealized solutions may be discovered. Ideas could give way to inventions. Your victories could pave the path toward their perseverance. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder (Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton) the meaning of your treasury of remembered moments will be different to each reader. The same reader may even get a new message, a deeper warmth, a broader smile, the next time they read or hear the same story. Have you ever read the same book twice? That’s what I mean.

When you are excited and prepared to tell a story, complete with a couple photographs and even some meaningful or fun background music–THAT’S THE TIME TO TELL IT!

IT MIGHT NOT BE A CONVENIENT TIME TO CALL OR VISIT OR FACE-TIME. WHAT IF YOUR EXCITEMENT WON’T STAY AT IT’S STORYTELLING “BEST” UNTIL THEY WAKE UP IN “THEIR TIME ZONE”?

I have researched many senior activities, family relationship tips, grandparent communication blogs and websites and I am interested in the varied and expansive creativity. You can read the same story book on your computer and have the child turn the pages on her/his tablet 3 time zones away from you! You can play games on-line and again, live far away. There is so much Grandma can do to keep in touch and build bonds with her grandchildren!

Fortunately, my grandchildren live just a few minutes away from us and we see them at least weekly. When I say that our energies don’t always match, I think you will understand the intricacies of planning time and activities that merit a gold star on our time together. Every minute as part of their lives is a gift. I know, as fit and capable as I am, now, barring a timely drink from the “fountain of youth”, that I will not be here forever. and…. THERE IS SO MUCH TO SAY!

By the Time They Understand the Story I May Have Forgotten the BEST Part!

When I listen to this 1973 story-song by Jim Croce, I hear a meaning now, that I didn’t truly understand in 1973. This is why I am on a mission to help Grandparents find a way to put their stories in a “bottle” to pass along to their chosen family members. Just like this story-song’s message has changed for me over the years, our olden-day stories will have evolving importance to them.

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day ’til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with youI

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure, and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them…

Jim Croce

Have you ever looked in an old photo album and wondered who the people in the pictures were?

old photo with a dad and two children on his lap no names or identities on the picture
COULD THAT LITTLE GIRL BE ME?

https://wehavekids.com/family-relationships/Dont-Toss-Old-Photos

old photo album suggesting lost stories and identities
ANYONE YOU KNOW HERE?

LINDA FRIED, Dean of Columbia University gave value to seniors in her statement,

The elderly are the only increasing natural resource in the entire world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_P._Fried

Though, we are active, vigorous and vital as seniors and don’t consider ourselves “elderly”, I can be on board with being a “natural resource”! Imagine being a RESOURCE to the overly stretched lives of our children in their parenting role!

We can “bottle our stories” easily using some simple story templates and creating a private channel on YouTube or even Vimeo where they can be tossed onto the waves of time. That way, it doesn’t matter what time zone those grandchildren live in. It won’t matter if they are sleeping or playing or watching their own t.v. shows when you are excited and prepared to tell a story, complete with a couple photographs and even some meaningful or fun background music. YOU just work or play at this gift creation whenever you want to! No schedule and no deadline required! They can tune you in whenever they want, no deadline or schedule needed. We can have some fun thinking about those “olden days”.

Wear Rose-Coloured Glasses

rose tinted eye glasses to see the world in a positive light
MY PREFERRED WAY TO REMEMBER STORIES WORTH SHARING

THERE ARE MEMOIRS. THERE ARE HISTORICAL FAMILY HISTORY BOOKS. THESE STORIES I AM THINKING ABOUT ARE NOT IN THAT GENRE.

I can be so up-lifting to just take out a shoebox or old album and find a picture or a few of the same event or person and thinking of a happy, fun story to tell about them. Not to leave out the challenges and victories of surmounting life’s not-so-fun moments, but the focus is on having a smile while your create.

Have you ever heard the song, “Oh that’s good”? If you leave out the last verse, You’ll get the idea! The stories I want my legacy bottle filled with are stories that find the good in the experiences, the dramas, the challenges, even the villains. With the focus frequently on some easy, happy, memorable times–the birthday parties, holidays, camping trips, school events, triumphs and celebrations.

Oh That’s Good, No That’s Bad

Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs.

Not long ago, I was walkin’ down the street
When a woman in a car knocked me off my feet
(Oh, that’s bad)
No, that’s good

My insurance paid me a lot of dough
More money than I’d seen in a year’s payroll
(Oh, that’s good)
No, that’s bad

On doctor bills is where my money went
And all I had left was a very bad limp
(Oh, that’s bad)
No, that’s good’Cause the way I walked, it got me a role
As the Marshall’s partner on a TV show
Pretty young actresses started hanging ’round
And every night we’d do the town

No, that’s bad

I ended up back in a hospital bed
‘Cause my horse fell on my bad leg
(Oh, that’s bad)
No, that’s good’Cause just when I was feeling my worst
I fell in love with a beautiful nurse
(Oh, that’s good)
XXXXXXXXXXXX

Find the Element of Fun

Unlike writing a memoir or even writing an essay, telling your story is like a good book that you can hardly wait to get back to and yet never want to end! Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins character aptly stated..

In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game

And every task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake


BY WALT DISNEY

Mary Poppins A SPOON FULL OF SUGAR
SIGNIFIES THE MAGIC AND FUN OF STORYTELLING FOR SENIORS
MARY POPPINS

SENIORS, GRANDMAS, CREATORS, Let’s find the fun and SNAP the job’s a GAME!

What do You Want Your Grandchild to Remember?

Your gift list ?

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    • Let’s Share Ideas___________

3 Comments

  1. Eve on February 12, 2022 at 4:56 pm

    Looking forward to adding items to the “🎁 ” list!
    I want to share camping adventures that bonded our family connections.

  2. Victoria Budd on February 15, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    As a young grandma (40) this is very relatable! I too believe stories are the best way to get lessons and messages across to the next generation. It’s how traditions have been passed down since cave man days. I’m excited to listen to my step daughter, to hear her thoughts of raising her daughter, to hear the questions she doesn’t know how to ask!
    Thank you for this article! As a young STEP grandmother, i didn’t think about the these joys of grandmahood!

    • Eve Harding on March 25, 2022 at 11:36 pm

      Victoria, you are so fortunate to be a young Grandma! Yes, we have so much to offer with experience and un-cluttered wisdom! When you talk about not knowing how to ask the questions it excites me to learn what those questions might be!

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