For 40 years grandparents have had a day of recognition all their own, and rightfully so. Many grandparents play an essential role in the lives of their grandchildren, even at times helping to raise them.
President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation in 1978 making the Sunday after Labor Day National Grandparent’s Day. Recently, a few friends and I were commenting on a Facebook thread about the importance of grandmothers and grandfathers in our lives. There were commenters who spent many weekends, holidays or summer vacations with them, or like me, actually lived with their grandparents.
I moved in with my grandparents, Hannah and Charlie Zimmerman, in Smithtown after my parents’ separation when I was in fourth grade. It was a bit of a bumpy ride at times. Having people raise me who grew up two generations before was a little tricky. There were a lot of things they wouldn’t let me do that other kids were allowed to because my grandparents didn’t get it. For one, I missed out on a lot of pajama parties because they didn’t understand the whole sleeping over someone else’s house when I had a bed and a home of my own.
Despite living with that and other old-fashioned rules, I learned a lot from my grandparents. They were young adults during the Great Depression, and I heard firsthand accounts about the era, which gave me a different perspective on finances when I experienced a couple of
recessions or tight financial times of my own.
I also would go with my grandparents to visit great-aunts and great-uncles and second cousins — people I may not have met if I lived with my parents. In doing so and hearing my grandparents’ stories of their families, it left me with a deeper appreciation for my ancestors.
Grandparent’s Day is Sept. 9
Then, of course, there were the differences in our preferred styles of music, which in later years has only enhanced my knowledge of songs from a wide array of eras. There were plenty of Sundays watching “The Lawrence Welk Show,” many New Year’s Eves with Guy Lombardo and his orchestra playing in the background, and even a few nights singing along with Mitch Miller and the Gang.
My grandparents’ house was also where my creative side was nurtured. After my grandfather retired as a sheet metal worker from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he took up oil painting. I remember watching him at his easel, and I still have a few of his creations, including one he started when I first moved in. He would sit with me and help me with my school projects and taught me how to draw houses, trees and faces. While my creative talents may have developed in another way through writing, I don’t doubt for a second that being able to think creatively through drawing helped with my craft.
I lost my grandfather when I was 18 and my grandmother when I was 22. Despite that being decades ago, I still find myself many times in life saying, “Grandma was right about this,” or “Grandpa was right about that,” though I would shake my head at some of the advice when I was younger.
Many years later, I’m glad their advice and the memories live on. So, thank you to them and all the grandparents who make a difference in the lives of children.