Hug a Grandma Today!

Have your kids hugged any older folks lately? I ask because I live in Rhode Island, which seems to be one of those rare American places where extended family still means a great deal. I know families that still gather at grandma's house for their weekly Sunday dinner. That said, my own parents moved 3000 miles across the country soon after my daughter was born, so my children saw them very rarely. Thank heavens for their father's parents. His mother was a wonderful grandmother, very loving and gentle. His father, still living, is a quirky representative from a quieter, more learned time.

I've been thinking about grandparents because there are some young people doing summer volunteer work at one of the nursing homes where I work. I wish there were many more children of all ages visiting nursing homes all the time.

Most older people love to see children and children need to realize that the old are just like them, with likes and dislikes, humor, and sometimes surprisingly interesting lives. They were young themselves, and during some very interesting times. I remember asking an 86 year old man who, at 19 had been at the bombing of Pearl Harbor if he'd been very scared. “No,” he said, “I was really mad 'cause we were supposed to have steak and eggs for breakfast, and there I was in the water thinkin', I'm not gonna get my steak and eggs!”

The young adolescent volunteers at the nursing home appear to enjoy their time there. They look confident and like to kid around with the older folks. Everybody seems to be having a great time.

If your children see their grandparents so rarely that they barely have time to get reacquainted before they say “Goodbye”, why not visit a local nursing home? Lots of folks wait until Christmas but the elderly are there all year round. Call your local nursing home and ask about volunteering to read books, sing songs, play games, or just sit and listen. It's a win-win situation for everybody concerned.

Rachel adds:

In high school, one of my brother’s friends had a regular gig going to nursing homes with his punk band. They’d show up with safety pins in their ears and funny colored hair, whip out a vintage silver microphone and start singing old standards from the 1940s. They were always a huge hit!

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