Musings on Being a Grandmother in a Strange World | Sixty and Me


My oldest grandchild just turned five, and since he was born, I have been blessed with four more grandchildren. Becoming a grandparent has been a magical experience for me. I never knew that it would elicit an entirely new set of thoughts and emotions, so I can’t help but muse about the type of world my grandkids have come into, and the world we will leave them.

During my musings, I often think about what I’ll be remembered for and what my legacy will be. I was very close with my maternal grandparents, and my children were also close with theirs.

It’s been said that children who have good relationships with their grandparents often grow up to be stable and self-confident individuals. I have that wish for my grandchildren, and I also hope that they’re always surrounded by love and peace.

The nurturing part of me wants to protect my grandchildren from all evil and wrongdoing. I want them to grow up in a harmonious world where all men and women are created equal, where music brings us together, and where everyone has a chance to self-actualize.

This may sound idealistic, but that’s the way I feel. My dreams for my grandchildren are as lofty as they were for the three beautiful kids I brought into the world in the 1980s.

I was born in the 1950s and was raised in New York in the midst of the hippie generation. I hung out in head shops in the suburbs of New York City, wore beaded necklaces, walked barefoot in the park, burned incense, and listened to music in my small bedroom, the walls of which were covered with wall-to-wall bulletin boards and black-light posters.

Over and over I sang the Beatles’ song “Let It Be,” because not only did I adore the band ever since seeing them on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, but also because their music evoked a sense of calm and hope.

Many of my friends were drafted into the Vietnam War, and I waved goodbye while engaging in antiwar marches.

My generation was, in essence, emotionally rebelling against what we viewed as the mindless direction in which our world was headed. The 60s counterculture asked questions and begged for answers and/or peace.

There have been many predictions that our intellectual rebellion would resurface during my grandchildren’s time as a result of political and racial oppression, and my sense is that it might emerge sooner than we think. In fact, the recent equality movements over the past few years might signal the beginning of a so-called revolution.

Some months ago I was speaking with a friend, also a grandmother, who shared the spirit of my own upbringing in the 1960s. We felt the same stirrings – the same desire to come together and instill change in a new generation – the pull to help bring about a sense of peace during unsettling times. We felt the same compulsion to engage in some type of activism that we felt back then.

While I and many others with spiritual orientations advocate self-care through meditation, yoga, and writing for healing, there are many who are self-destructive. Among teens, the suicide rate is higher than ever, and more veterans are dying from suicide than combat fatalities.

My sense is that baby boomers like myself need to individually reach out to our own circles and vow to be the messengers to our children and grandchildren – to inspire them to keep the faith, be compassionate, practice gratitude, and help promote the power of interconnectedness.

If we all do so, then the power of positivity can be transmuted and spread across the universe. This might sound idealistic – and it very well might be – but it’s worth a try. My hope is to share the stories of our ancestors with my grandchildren because in learning about the past we can come to some resolve about the present.

When they’re old enough, I want to give them a copy of my first memoir, Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal about my grandmother and caretaker who took her life in my childhood home. Hearing stories will unite us as a family and as a culture.

As the Beatles’ song said, “Come together right now.” Encouraging interconnectedness is one way for us to do so. As we used to say in the 1960s, let’s try to “make love, not war.” This is not just a slogan; it’s vital to our collective well-being.

The possible resurgence of the hippie revolution merely means that we need to reevaluate old thoughts and bring in fresh and poignant new ideas. It also might be a good time to revisit books such as Hippie Dictionary by John Bassett McCleary (2002), which in and of itself, is a great history book that presents a beautiful picture of those times.

Like myself, McCleary also believes that through writing, we can make our opinions known, and as the wonderful singer/songwriter Pete Seeger said, “We shall overcome.”

My hope is that we can all come together to do just that… for our children, for our grandchildren, and for ourselves.

What kind of world do you think your grandchildren will live in? What part have you played in creating it? Does your hope for the future involve interconnectedness and in what way do you envision this? Please engage with the community!

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