Not long ago, my then six-year-old grandson took me aback. “Granny,” he asked innocently enough. “Would you do me a favour?” I assumed he wanted another biscuit (cookie) or to watch some more television.
“Granny,” he continued. “Would you and Grand-dad do your very, very best to stay healthy, because I want my children to know their great-grandparents?”
Well, that was a surprise! I promised to try. What else could I say?
Like many in the Sixty and Me community, I have not thought much about becoming a great-grandmother. Many of us are not yet grandmothers and taking it to the next step, even for those of us who are, seems a bit far.
And yet, if you have a reflective nature, you have undoubtedly begun to think about the long-term future. It’s not something you think about all the time, but it comes on at odd moments of the day or when prompted by some event.
Of course, you know you are growing older inexorably day by day, but you also know that there are too many unknowns to create a very vivid picture.
If you are a grandmother, you may think about the future more readily, because when you are with the grandchildren, it is right there in front of you.
You do wonder what will happen to them. You look at those little smiling childish faces and try to imagine what they will look like when they are older. What will they be like as adults? What will they want to become? And what will the world be like when they get there? Things around us seem to be changing so fast, it is hard to imagine.
You may also wonder about your own children as older adults – although any transformation will not be so great – compared to small children.
But, quite naturally, you will also wonder about yourself. Will you be around in twenty or more years’ time? If so, what will you be up to doing? Will you have stayed healthy, as so eagerly urged by my grandson, or will you be struggling with some major illness? Will you still feel engaged and productive? Will you be happy?
This leads me back to that surprising issue of being a great-grandmother. I had never given it much thought. Indeed, I find it hard to imagine.
My older friends tell me it is somewhat like being a grandmother, but the distance in age, and sometimes your own frailty, makes it hard to feel quite so involved.
Of course, it is wonderful to hold a new and related baby in your arms. Indeed, as one friend put it, “To look into the eyes of the next generation.”
If you and your children all started their families early, it will be much easier. You might be a great-grandmother in your sixties, with plenty of energy to take an active role. But for most of us, with children being born later and later, you may feel you need to take more of a back seat. This is not to say that, as the children grow and ask questions, you can’t impart the occasional wisdom. That could be very satisfying indeed.
And if you get there, you will be faced with amazing twin facts affecting your self-image. First, you will have reached the lofty stage of being a great-grandmother. Second, you will have to accept that your once little child is now a grandparent!
How often do you think about the long-term future? Do you look forward to being a great-grandmother? What are your thoughts about the “twin facts” and self-image? Please join the conversation.