The average age of a first-time grandparent today is 45 and the life expectancy in America is almost 80. The relationship that you build with your grandchildren will have time to blossom and to be passed to a fourth generation during your lifetime.
-- Roma Hanks, Ph.D.
Mobile Alabama Harbinger
I put a question to my friend Chris Kelly, a practiced and devoted grandma for over a quarter century. I asked her how she learned such loving grandparenting. I had seen her many years ago at the Center for Spiritual Living in Santa Rosa with Ari, her toddler granddaughter. And over time, she has proudly shared stories and pictures of her growing brood of granddaughters. Now Ari, a former Homecoming Queen and graduate of Rancho Cotati High School, is a flourishing young woman of 18 years and she and Chris still have a great relationship. How did she become that grandmother?
Young and Healthy
Chris is young and healthy as a retiree and grandmother, but how does she account for the harmony in her multigenerational household for these many years? “My grandma Amy Mae was my Native American elder and she taught me about the dangers of judging others and also about the Circle of Life. My first grandbaby was stillborn and it was such a shock. My grandma’s caring and wisdom pulled us all through. Also, she taught mostly by just being a loving sweet grandma to me.”
Babies Teach, too.
Since that first sad experience, Chris has been present for the healthy births of four more granddaughters. “It’s a joy for me, and they say I calm them.” The babies were also an influence on Chris. Babies just home from the hospital nestled in her arms have been powerful teachers. And being an extra set of willing and helpful hands also meant a lot to young parents.
Keeping Calm and Making a Difference
Growing up with a longing for more family, Chris feels fulfilled in that she now shares the connected, cohesive home with her big loving family. Her girls and their girls welcome Chris to all their big moments and of course, she shows up when her calm is needed. “Sure, I have helped when needed, but they all help me, too.”