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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Celebrating Grandparents

Pope Francis has declared the fourth Sunday in July as World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. The Sunday was chosen because it will always be close to the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Jesus’ maternal grandparents, which we celebrate on July 26. In honor of this day, let’s look at some of the reasons why grandparents are so important.

1. Grandparents can have a great impact on their grandchildren’s lives. Nine out of ten adult grandchildren say their grandparents have influenced their beliefs and value system. As writer David Dayler has said, “Perhaps the most powerful means of transmission of the faith is through the lived experience of those who have traveled the journey before us.”

2. Grandparents provide a sense of security. Although parents are largely responsible for giving their children a sense of security, grandparents can deepen and expand that sense. If children are in trouble, they know they can always run to grandma or grandpa.

3. Grandparents reduce stress. A 2014 study out of Boston College said this: “An emotionally close relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is associated with fewer symptoms of depression for both generations.”

4. Grandparents offer a link to children’s family history and culture. Grandparents often share valuable information with their grandchildren about their family origins, makeup, culture, customs, and faith traditions. The simple stories grandparents tell about the past help give their grandchildren a sense of history and belonging. And it is largely through their grandparents that children first learn that their parents were once children too.

5. Grandparents widen the circle of love for their grandchildren. If children feel loved by their parents, that’s wonderful. But that circle of love is expanded when they realize how much they are also loved by their grandparents. That prepares children for widening their own circle of love especially by forming friendships with others.

6. Parents are great learning-partners. Grandparents are often the best partners for helping their grandchildren discover the wonders of life. I am always amazed at the number of grandparents and grandchildren I see together in the park, at the beach, in science museums, at the zoo, at the botanical gardens, and even at Mass together. (That reminds me of this true story. A little girl went to Mass with her grandparents. She had seldom been at Mass before. When the priest and deacon walked up the aisle in the entrance procession, the little girl turned to her grandpa and whispered, “Which one is God?”)

7. Grandparents are an economic powerhouse. A recent MetLife survey found that grandparents spend an average of $1700 a year on their grandchildren. This money is often used to help pay for child-care, housing, and education. But, of course, grandparents also buy gifts for their grandchildren. What are the two most popular gifts? Clothing and books!

Here are a few more facts about grandparents. In the U.S., over 80 million people are grandparents. That is one-third of the adult population… The majority of grandparents are between the ages of 46-64… Grandchildren help grandparents too. They can boost cognitive performance in older persons, they can help build a stronger immune system in their grandparents, and they give their grandparents an incentive to work for a better future. After all, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren (etc.) will be living in the future we are creating now. And finally, grandchildren can expand grandparents’ knowledge. Many grandparents know, if you’re having a problem with your cellphone or the TV remote, just hand it to your grandchild!

Let’s conclude with a few quotations about grandparents:

“If nothing is going well, call your grandmother.” (Italian proverb)

“Grandfathers are just antique little boys.” (Anonymous)

“Grandparents make the world a little softer, a little kinder, a little warmer.” (Anonymous)

“Sometimes grandmas and grandpas are like grand-angels.” (Lexie Saige)

Reflective questions:

+ What do you remember most about your own grandparents?

+ If you are a grandparent, what has that experience been like for you?

+ Can you think of any other reasons why grandparents are so important?

PS: I ask your prayers for a retreat I will be facilitating at the St. Cyril Spiritual Center in Danville, PA from July 19-26. This is a blended retreat, both in-person and virtual. Thank you for your support!

I have two music videos today. The first is “In Color” written and sung by country singer Jamey Johnson. This tribute to his grandpa won the award for best country song in 2008. The second video is called “Grandma’s Hands” and was written and sung here by Bill Withers.

“In Color” by Jamey Johnson:

“Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers. Withers said this song was “the favorite thing I’ve written.” It tells of his Grandmother Calloway in rural West Virginia who really did look after unwed mothers in her area as well as her own family. I’ve written out the lyrics below the video.

Grandma’s hands clapped in Church on Sunday morning… Grandma’s hands played a tambourine so well….

Grandma’s hands used to issue out a warning. She’d say, “Billy don’t you run so fast… Might fall on a piece of glass… Might be snakes there in the grass…” Grandma’s hands.

Grandma’s hands soothed a local unwed mother… Grandma’s hands used to ache sometimes and swell… Grandma’s hands used to lift her face and tell her. She’d say, “Baby, Grandma understands… That you really love that man… Put yourself in Jesus’ hands.” Grandma’s hands.

Grandma’s hands used to hand me a piece of candy… Grandma’s hands picked me up each time I fell…Grandma’s hands, Boy they really came in handy. She’d say, “Matty, don’t you whip that boy… What you want to spank him for?… He didn’t drop no apple core.”

But I don’t have Grandma anymore… If I get to heaven I’ll look for Grandma’s hands.

+ Once again I invite you to respond to this reflection below. We all enjoy hearing from you!

18 Responses

  1. Good morning all, I was one of the lucky ones to have both sets of grandparent’s in my life growing up.i have fond memories of all of them my paternal grandparent’s I called G-pops and G-ma and my maternal grandparent’s were Grandpa and Gram. I lost both my grandpa’s at the age of 19 and it was very painful. I was extremely close to my G-pops. I always feel he was one that understood me the most. We enjoyed being outside going on walks in nature, sitting in lawn chairs eating some fresh watermelon, muskmelon or honeydew that they always brought with them when they came to visit. If I visited them they always had us kids favorites readily available for us grape nuts, fresh fruits and cheese. My G-ma was a avid reader she read a book a day for years and she happily spread that gene to numerous family members including myself. My maternal grandpa was hard of hearing however that never stopped him from showing his love to me, I would always sit with him in his chair and watch tv. He would always pick me up from school when I was sick and even though he tried to be tough (he was 100% Italian) he was a big mush inside. He would check on me often to make sure I was alright. My Gram would always make me Lipton cup of soup and she was one of the best cooks ever. Even though I now have her meatballs recipie I’ve never made them, for now I’ll stick with the memories of just how good they were. I have however mastered her pot roast recipe and everytime I make it she is in my thoughts. I lost my gram in 2005 and before her death demetrius had set in. My mom tried preparing me saying she won’t know you when she sees you. When I walked into her room at the nursing home she looked and me and said well it’s about time you got her and thankfully the entire visit I shared with her she was the loving Gram I cherished. Leaving was not easy that day she succumbed shortly after. However I had peace in my heart though knowing her mind was now whole again. My G-ma was the last of my Grandparent’s I lost. She lived into her nineties. Although dementia also got her she had led a wonderful life full of love. She would always be up for a card or board game. Was always willing to offer her wisdom to me. I have tattoos in remembrance of my G’pops and Gram on my shoulder blades and countless times when I ‘m needing strength, guidance or I’m just having tough days I squeeze my shoulder blades Another song to listen to is by The Judds titled Grandpa tell me about the good old days. My G-pops and I used to sing it together. Now whenever I hear it happy tears flow. Cherish your grandparent’s if you still have them we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them. Love, peace and safety to all. 💝🙏

  2. Memories of my grandma: praying the rosary after supper in front of her huge statue of Our Lady of Victory, Campbell ‘s chicken noodle soup, weekday Mass at St. Boniface Church, enjoying Bingo at her kitchen table, all my aunts, uncles & cousins gathered around her piano singing Christmas carols, the nun doll she gave me one Christmas….

  3. I was fortunate to know my grandparents and my great-grandparents. The wealth of knowledge you receive as a little one is only appreciated as you get older. Now, I am a grandparent to three unique and beautiful little children, ages 4, 5 and 7. When they visit and you see those smiles it melts your heart. The hugs and kisses are precious gifts and those words, I love you Busia and Opa brighten the room. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with the time I have with them.
    We learn so much from them. My husband and I are blessed.

  4. Good morning, Sr. Melannie…
    Good morning, all…

    Sadly, I knew only one of my grandparents, my Nana. She was from Ireland. She possessed this incredible mystical sense! She claimed she once saw an angel, she claimed she once saw a ghost bending over my crib! And, of course, she taught me about leprechauns, something I fervently believed in until I was at least eleven!

    She saw God’s hand in everything. For example, when she was twenty she contracted tuberculosis. Her recovery took a year, and most of that time, according to her, she rested in bed. She would later say that that year of rest readied her for the time her daughter (my mother) died in 1963. At the time she was seventy-seven, and soon she was cooking, cleaning, and doing the laundry for her five grandchildren, my father, and my aunt. Just remarkable! She died in 1972.

    She always made my bacon extra crispy and crumbled it over my scrambled eggs.

    Strong Celtic Nan!

  5. Thank you , Sr. Melannie—such a wonderful reflection!
    I recall my visits with fondness, driving from New Jersey to Parsons KS to see my paternal grandparents . Grandma was always SO happy to see us–5 grandchildren descended on them at once! Ages 10 and under. After a 2. 5 days cooped up in a station wagon!
    I can still smell her homemade cinnamon rolls.!
    She sewed and crocheted items that i still have today…my grandfather had a mischievous twinkle in his eyes and loved to tease us.
    I feel Very Blessed to have 10 grandchildren who live only 90 miles away. Once a year
    We do “Special Time” with one -on -one time after age 6. They love it and we do too! Other visits in between, of course! 😊
    We will have 2 grandsons coming this week.
    I keep a book in which i write down interesting things they say and many good observations….
    We feel so Blessed to have time to be with these Grands. They help us learn and stay young at heart!

    Many Blessings Always, Sr. Melannie
    ☀️😊💖🙏🙏 Ann

  6. I never knew my dad’s parents, immigrants from Slovakia…sadly they were both gone before I was born. But my mother’s parents were like angels! I loved visiting them and in the summer staying for a week with them. The kitchen seemed to always smell of cookies baking and the cookie jar was always full. I would sit on the front porch swing with my grandpa just chatting about life. My grandparents took in many foster children over the years and one of them was adopted and became by Aunt Ruth. When I think of my grandparents, it brings a smile and a tear.

  7. Good morning all!

    My paternal grandmother was the only one alive when I was a child. She had a grape farm in Geneva, OH that my parents & aunts/uncles helped harvest every fall.

    Those weekends there were magical for me. My grandmother made everything from scratch in her summer kitchen, there was a wonderful porch & swing to relax on anytime of day, there were covered bridges, Geneva-on-the-Lake, & the pinochle card games the adults played in the evenings were entertaining to say the least!

    My grandmother shared with me about our Polish heritage, foods, customs, & language. She was cuddly & loving! She helped shape the woman I became by modeling patience, love towards all, love of God, the importance of prayer, & kindness & generosity to the less fortunate. Memories of her were never about money or gifts but about the importance of the gift of time spent with people.

    I’ll always remember her fondly.

  8. I have many fond memories of my Grandma Docia. Her and Papa didn’t live very far away. She was a devout Christian and even though life in those times were rough she never wavered. Such faith!!!! We didn’t get to know our other grandmother although we did visit once in a while before she moved far away. After I married my husband we moved to his home town in Michigan. There was a very extended family there and I became close to my husband’s grandmother who taught me how to make many Polish dishes, find and pick elderberries and dig dandelions! I kept in contact with my grandmother Docia through letters (it was too costly to telephone) and I still have many of the letters that she wrote to me. I now have7 grandchildren ( all grown now and starting families) and they are such a joy!! So far there are two great grandsons!

  9. I love being a grandparent! When my first grandchild was born five years ago, I felt a sense of completeness. Her birth assured me I would continue in the world through that little girl. I now have four grandchildren with another on the way in November. Sharing God’s love with my grandchildren is a mission for me and is something I try to instill every time I am with one of them. Praying for them daily is another way I support and love them. They also bring such joy to my life! They are fun, carefree, curious about everything, and remind me nothing is more important than a human life. I’m so glad Pope Francis has designated a day to honor grandparents.

  10. I remember when my Grandmother baked bread every Wednesday. If we were around we would go over to get a slice with elderberry jelly on it. My mother told us not to bother Grandma and when we came home we told her we hadn’t. but the jelly was on our faces.
    I know the seasons for every berry because my Grandfather always took us berry picking. He knew the best spot in the woods. Delicious strawberries and blueberries. Often if we picked (and didn’t eat them all) my mother would make a blue berry pie. So I have some warm memories of my father’s mother and dad.

  11. Thank you. My grandmother had such an important influence on my life and she holds a special place in my heart reserved for her alone. Beautiful reflection and songs.

  12. My granfather died when my grandmother was only 59 and she lived to 92 alone. She never drove but she went to daily Mass almost without fail (we lived in North Dakota, so some days she just couldn’t walk there and no one took her). But her daily Mass practice has influenced my life dramatically (I can drive there, even in Minnesota winter = mostly) Grandma did NOT have a junk drawer — that still amazes me. Grandma LOVED Spam — fried with potatoes! Grandma wrote to me almost every week in college and beyond. Always could count on her letter in my college mailbox -sometimes with a couple dollars for a “pop and candy bar” (it was the 60s!) My other grandma died when I was 3 so I only have one grandma to remember – and I do with much love and thanks.

  13. I don’t remember my paternal grandparents very well. We only visited occasionally and they were raising other grandchildren whose parents were separated. I do remember Grandma being sick in my late teen years and Grandpa taking care of her until she died.
    My maternal grandfather died when I was six but I remember riding on the back of one of his draft horses while he plowed their large garden. Afterwards, he would give me a Hershey Bar!
    My maternal grandma, Ida (Idy), was more of a mother to me than my mother. I remember her rocking me (I still have that rocking chair in my living room) and helping her de-feather the chickens that she had just killed for Sunday dinner (I could never bring myself to kill one though!). Grandma became blind due to diabetes. We lived in a very small rural town in Central Indiana and there was only one Main Street. Grandma used me for her eyes when we drove from my house to hers. That wouldn’t work today! 🤣 Grandma was a great cook. One Sunday she baked a cherry pie and when I bit into it I found a fly! I never told her but it was a long time before I could eat cherry pie! I remember her teaching me to sew on an old White treadle sewing machine. She used to make my dresses out of feed sacks. I guess my most special memory however, was hertaking me to downtown Indianapolis on a bus to see “The Bells of St. Mary’s starring Bing Crosby on my sixth birthday. Grandma was nearly blind by then and couldn’t really see the movie. Grandma was dying of cancer when I was pregnant with my first child. She got out of her sickbed and lived until he was 2 months old. She was determined to hold her first grandchild. Grandma Idy loved me and I knew it! I still miss her.
    I am now a grandmother to twenty grandchildren (3 are deceased), 10 great-grandchildren and a great-great grandchild on the way in December. I wish I had been the kind of grandma mine was. However, I have grandchildren older than my youngest child and I was still distracted by my own children. I am good friends with several of my adult grandchildren and I hope they all know I love them dearly.🥰
    Thank you, Sr.Melannie, for the first video, “In Color”. It is so very true and brought back so many memories. My husband just put it on our “Play List”.

  14. I also love being a Grandparent. My husband as well. We’ve acquired many different names, but the most recent are MiMi and Poppa. We have ten grandchildren. The oldest of them got married in May, and we all loved being together to celebrate.
    My own Mom and Dad were great Grandparents. Mom loved to read books, and she’d record them as she went, and we recently found some casette tapes of her reading to our youngest two. She and my Dad lived right across the street from the High School, and our older boys remember being able to run over to Grandma’s for lunch if they didn’t like what they made at school.
    My inlaws were great grandparents too, and taught our kids many things, but both Grandma’s prayed the rosary daily, and taught them that. My husband’s mom was an excellent baker, and polish, so my daughter wanted to learn how to make poppyseed coffee cake when she was older, and spent one of her favorite times with her. She had to remind her to measure as she was throwing things in the bowl, as she knew it by heart. She made wonderful bread, and loved to play cards. We were very blessed to have good parents, and now we’re blessed with our lovely Grandchildren. Thank you for your articles Sr. Melanie

  15. Dear Sr. Melannie….all of your blogs are wonderful, but this one struck a special chord with me. My parents divorced when I was quite young and due to circumstances, we stayed with my father and his mother. So I was raised by my paternal grandmother. She wasn’t what you would call the warm, cuddly type, she was kind of a tough cookie, but the lessons she taught me are what made me the person I am today. And her unwavering faith has stayed with me all these years. We NEVER, EVER missed Sunday mass. I still think of her every day and especially as July 31st approaches , as that was her birthday. Happy birthday in heaven, Granny! (That’s what we called her, she didn’t like the term Grandma!)

  16. My grandfather’s stories were my first history lessons. Years long past became so alive for me that it seemed that I had experienced them first hand. What a gift.

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Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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