The Wisdom of Multi-generational Friendships

I was with a long (we never say old) friend recently at a professional event, and of course asked her and her husband about their seven grandchildren from the ages of two to nine.  Her son and daughter-in-law live next door with their four children and her daughter lives ten minutes away with her three.  She and her husband choose to be hands on.

When her first grandchild was born, she set up a baby room in her office so she could be backup to her working children.  She still works full time but her husband, now retired, does carpooling of grandchildren for after school activities on a daily basis for his working children.  She shared something that has happened since the last time we saw each other.

Her Pastor called her and said there was an opening in a bible study group at the church and the other couples specifically asked that they join the group.  They were honored to be specifically asked for and went to the next meeting at the church.  When they walked in, they were astounded that there were only three other couples and all the couples were in their late 30s!  They recognized the couples but did not know them well.  They questioned the couples and asked why the couples felt these grandparents, in their late sixties, should be part of the group of young parents.  The couples said they have watched them with their grandchildren and children, even dropping off and picking up their own children who had play dates at the grandparents’ house.  They wanted to keep their marriages and families strong and wanted the grandparents’ wisdom as part of their bible study group.  My grandparent friend said the word “wisdom” was not something she and her husband related to as applying to them! These couples have become their friends.  Their grandchildren added an unanticipated dimension to their lives.

FriendsGrandparenting breeds youthfulness in our boomer generation.  We refuse to be the last generation’s definition and view of grandparents.  My friend said it must show that we refuse to be “old.” She laughed and said, but who would have thought we would be considered wise?

When my nine year old grandson was born, my daughter’s next door neighbor had a baby boy months apart in age.  He was her youngest at the time. Now she has four children now ranging in age from six to twenty one one.  She is now in her fifties.  We spent many days fun filled together with our boys for nearly six years when I visited.  She was a stay at home mom and my daughter worked.  We became fast friends.  So many times, she wanted to know what was coming next in her parenting life and advice on handling those challenges.  My daughter has since moved, but I see her neighbor and my friend at basketball games and such in the community and cherish the annual Christmas card to see how all the children have grown.  She and her husband are in between the ages of my daughter and myself and we span the generations in friendship thanks to my grandson.

We baby boomer grandparents feel “forever young” (my husband and my favorite song by Rod Stewart).  We exercise and keep ourselves in shape to keep up with working hard, playing hard, and grandparenting easy.  We think of ourselves as much younger than our years and it must show.

I recall an incident that occurred when I was in my late twenties.  I know exactly when this happened as I was carrying my oldest daughter who was a baby.  I was on line at the public library holding a best seller in the checkout line.  In front of me was a gray haired elderly woman holding the same best seller.  She turned to me and asked my age and told me she was eighty four in years outside but the same age as me inside.  She said, dear, all that happens is that our bodies age around us.  We remain in our twenties in our hearts forever, she said.  It was wonderful wisdom and I have shared this numerous times with my multi-generational friends.

I, though, did not put the last piece in the puzzle together until my friend shared her story at the event we attended.  We boomer grandparents have the wisdom of years with the heart of youthfulness.  We have made some many mistakes and have so much experience in life and parenting.  We are attractive, of course, across the generations because we think of ourselves in this way.  We think we are attractive across the generations because we keep our youthful appearance and youthful attitudes.  Who knew our attractiveness are the years we outwardly try to hide– the wisdom of our years.

My we continue to expand the horizons of friendships opened up to us by our grandchildren with

 

Joy,

 

Mema

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