Here’s a true ‘grandpa’ anecdote that I wrote for my peers and added to my self-published collection several decades ago. It was well-received at the time and might still be considered appropriate among the elders that ‘are’ and ‘to be.’
During an exchange of reminiscences at a senior citizens group a woman in the audience stood and remarked, ‘I’m a volunteer helper in a class of first graders at (naming a nearby school)’ I haven’t given it much thought until now, but I’ve come to realize that some youngsters see their grandparents regularly, others not often, even rarely, and still others see their grandparents not at all. For a few, grandparents live too far away and other youngsters don’t know where their grandparents live or even if they have grandparents, but saddest of all are the kids who don’t know what grandparents are.’
Grandparents and grandchildren are natural allies, but when their homes are too far apart, or other barriers intervene, their alliance weakens. Everybody loses, including the youngsters’ parents – the generation in the middle. Sharing this thought led me to write:
I live in one city, my grandchildren in another almost a thousand miles distant. During one of my visits I took my, then, three-year-old granddaughter for a stroll. We paused to examine a spider’s web spanning a space between two shrubs. A rain shower had just passed and droplets festooned the web’s strands and rainbow-sparkled in the morning sun. Standing there, both of us bent forward, peering into the web, I wove a story that transformed the sparkling strands into a carnival and the spider into an acrobat. Granddaughter’s eyes widened with wonder.
We continued on and paused at a house to observe a cat on the porch playing with a yellow ball. I wove another tale of a cat and a strange ball that bounced too high and disappeared into a cloud. Again, my granddaughter’s expression showed her pleasure hearing grandpa’s story. For the remainder of my visit, and during subsequent visits, I told her, and when he was old enough, my grandson, of the world around us and how we hoped to, some day, live all together peacefully on Planet Earth.
Visits, in either direction were infrequent. Adult-oriented telephone calls usually left only brief moments for talking to grandchildren. Long distance calls just didn’t generate the right ambiance and enough time for the relaxed talking and easy listening that goes naturally with a grandpa story. Then, too, at the close of an adult telephone conversation the youngsters are usually busy at other things, and sometimes grandpas just don’t do well as talkers.
In my pre-computer circumstances, I often filled the gaps with hand-scribed and, in time, typewriter-generated stories. The typed stories lengthened our telephone chats to devising plots for new stories, and fleshing-out characters, settings, and scenes. We confirmed that there are no better aids to a grandparent-grandchild telephone [now email] story conference than our faithful friends Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.
One story, whatever the content and format, followed another, often illustrated with pictures from discarded magazines. When I couldn’t find a just-right illustration, I laboriously sketched an all-thumbs grandpa original. It was an enjoyable experience for me, and feedback from the family showed it was enjoyable for my grandchildren as well.