on relationship with grandparents – the love and the memory carousel

during my commute to and from work, i often dive back into my childhood, remembering my close relationship with my grandparents. every once in a while, we revisit our childhood memories, don’t we? my mother used to stress the importance of keeping a close relationship with my grandparents. she lost both sets of her grandparents before she was old enough to even remember them.

most of my childhood friends had some or no grandparents. those with grandparents used to hesitate being dragged to their grandparents’ house on a lazy Saturday afternoon or a random day in the Summer.

that wasn’t me though.

i used to enjoy visiting my grandparents, playing games with them, building things, listening to their stories and talking about nearly anything that a child’s mind can grasp. i was lucky. i was fortunate enough to know all four of my grandparents, calling each with a different nickname.

  • My mom’s mother was Nanny
  • My dad’s mother was Sito (Arabic for grandma)
  • My mom’s father was Poppy
  • My dad’s father was Grandpa to me

but it wasn’t just about names. instead, i had a unique relationship with each of them too with each one teaching me something different.

here’s a trip down my memory lane:

Nanny and i – the listener and the LEGO-player

my mom’s mother survived the longest, which is why i had her support well into my adulthood. i only recently lost her. so, i remember sitting at her kitchen table, eating mac and cheese, playing with LEGOS all day long. and, i also recall her in recent years, chatting with me about topics like relationships, which we couldn’t talk about when i was younger.

there was no better listener than nanny was. had you ever got a chance to sit in a room with my nanny, you’d have realized that all her questions had follow-up questions to your response. she would have made you feel like the most important person in the room, thanks to her undivided attention and genuine interest.

and, she cared deeply. very deeply.

Sito and i – the confident and the learner

my father’s mother was Nanny’s opposite. where nanny was soft-spoken, Sito was loud and assertive. she didn’t hold back any of her feelings when it came to anything.

she took her time doing things because she enjoyed the process (also partly because she was slow-moving).

she knew her capabilities, which meant she did what she knew she could do and delegated tasks that she knew she couldn’t handle on her own. Sito also wasn’t afraid of asking. often she got what she wanted and wasn’t afraid of a “no”, which was one of her strong suits that i admire so much.

you’d maybe think Nanny and Sito didn’t get along. but, they did. their opposing personality traits complemented each other well as they grew close after their husbands passed away. and together, as a balanced duo, these beautiful ladies taught me a lot.

some things that i picked up from them:

  • speaking up about my feelings
  • writing down my to-do list and goals
  • paying people to do things you don’t want to do and more

Poppy and i – the mechanic and his sidekick

my mother’s father was a WWII vet so if you’re guessing he was strong, you guessed it, right. his commitment to family and dedication to his country made him a class act. besides, he was a mechanic so he could build anything.

naturally, a lot of the time we spent together was in his workshop, the small, yet tidy garage. we’d take things apart, put them back together, fix things and much more – all with the help of one manual, Poppy’s experience.

eventually, I lost my favorite mechanic to Alzheimer’s Disease. the mental ailment made him ask us the same things over and over. this was upsetting as a kid because we really didn’t understand what happened to Poppy. we answered each of his questions anyway (even the repeats).

his disease taught me one thing though. not only is having life a gift, but being healthy (disease-free) is an even bigger gift. Poppy’s passing made Nanny a strong woman in many ways. aside from the obvious things she had to overcome after losing her life-long partner, she had to learn to do things she had hadn’t done in a while – like driving a car.

during this phase, Nanny taught me a lot about independence. she walked me through her relationship with Poppy too – how they raised five children and how they managed to live in New York on a single income while also saving for retirement.

Grandpa and i – the polished man and the apprentice

my father’s dad was an equally strong man. slightly rough around the edges, but loving at the same time. and, he never hesitated in showing his love to his grandchildren. i remember him kissing our cheeks whenever we’d visit. his death left a deep pain within me because he was the first loved one to pass away.

i didn’t get to spend my adulthood with my grandpa, as i was 15 at that time of his passing.

thinking of him right now though, i remember him being well-dressed, wearing the whitest shoes without a speck of dust of them. his consciousness about his appearance left a good impression on me as i understand the importance of appearance (looking good and feeling good) from him.

Grandpa and i would go fishing and crabbing on hot summer weekends. he made me do all of the work in order to learn each of the important processes related to the hobby. once our crab traps were scattered around the docks we’d sit on the bench and watch. he’d sharpen his knife and talk about his life. i’d listen.

my message to you

if you’ve made it this far into my family history reminisce, i commend you and thank you for reading. my message to you is simple though. love your grandparents, and if they are still alive, please visit them. at the very least, call them.

a lot in our personalities comes from them. my grandparents have helped me make who i am today. i continue to reflect on memories i have with them, things they’ve taught me, and stories they’ve told me.