A-Game Grandparents

I haven’t written in a while. I’ve had a lot of stuff going on in my life the last couple months. But here is a piece I wrote back in June.
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I find people’s relationships with their grandparents very interesting. They can vary so deeply. I’ve had friends whose grandmothers were their best friend and a huge inspiration to them. I’ve heard of grandfathers that were so terrifyingly mean or distant that their grandchildren never went near them. And of course some people never have the honor of knowing their grandparents who pass on too early. I think my relationship with my grandparents are somewhere in the middle.

Like many people, I had an A-Grandma and a B-Grandma. Sorry; mean but true. It is not based off of anything personal, solely based off who showed me love and attention and was involved in my life. The Grandma that I felt comfortable in her home and have warm memories of, and I always knew would help me with anything I needed. This is my maternal grandma, we’ll call her Gma-A. It’s not always the grandparents fault either, sometimes they simple become the B-grandparents because of location – they live three states away and you only see them once a year. But I grew up in the same town as both my sets of grandparents until I was nine, then after moving to Nevada, I still lived equal distance from each of them. I probably spent as much time at my Gma-A’s home as I did my own home in those early years. Those grandparents liked having us there. We would spend the night there for fun (or so our parents could go out, but it was always fun for us), and we’d hang out there playing with our cousins. Gma-A would invite us over to bake cookies with her, or pick us up from school when we were sick or had emergencies (like when I wet my pants in 4th grade). Even after we moved I remained close to Gma-A. It’s easier to keep the long-distance relationship up when you are comfortable and close to begin with.

I don’t remember much from my early years about my Paternal Grandma (Gma-B). I remember having the same amount of Thanksgivings and Christmas holidays at her house as the other grandma, and also playing there with cousins during family get-togethers. But I never hung out there by myself with Gma-B, or spent the night. My Paternal Grandpa (Gpa-B) was a super nice man we all loved, and he was good to us kids when we were around. Unfortunately he was often overshadowed by the coldness of Gma-B. My mother recently told me that Gma-B had only ever babysat me one time as a child, and she had to beg her to do so. Needless to say, it was easy to drift even further apart when we moved to a different state.

Now in my Gma-B’s defense, the woman had five children in about five years time, which is enough to make anyone grouchy. Then she had to go through the heartache and pain of losing three of those children already: One as a teenager, one at thirty, one at fifty-six. That is enough to drive a person to utter depression and bitterness. I understand that. However, it’s too bad she remained so closed off to the rest of her family. She could have enjoyed those of us that were still her in her life. Maybe she didn’t want to babysit me when I was little because I was always so sick with Asthma. Maybe she didn’t want to get attached too much in case I died. Who knows? But then that wouldn’t explain why she also didn’t have that relationship with my younger cousins either. From what I have seen or known, she has only managed to keep a long-term close and loving relationship with one of her grandchildren, a female cousin that is two years older than me. Maybe she’s the only one that was ever determined enough to make her grandma adore her. But who should have to make a grandparent adore you? Shouldn’t it be automatic and unconditional?

Now as an adult with my father passed on, he’s not around to be the go-between and it can be a struggle to stay in touch with his parents. I do love them. I want to be there for them. I try to go see them every couple months but there just is not enough of a base there for us to have lots to talk about. They don’t know enough about me or my life or my kids to carry on good conversation. Their health is getting really frail now and I know they might not be around much longer so I am going to try to get them to tell me stories of the old days. So our relationship is getting easier the older I get, but they could have made it a lot easier by being there along the way.
Well, at least it teaches me the lesson: do not let yourself be the “B” Grandparent! I’m sure every child would love to have two “A-games” on their side. Bring it Grandma!

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