Rachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

I was cleaning out the spare dresser in our guest bedroom when I found the journal I kept when I was pregnant with my firstborn eight years ago. A card on one of the pages caught my attention. It was taped in among photos and handwritten accounts of pregnancy cravings, weigh-ins, shower gifts, and the birth story itself. The card was from my paternal grandparents, and written on it in my grandmother’s flowing cursive were these words: “To our very first great-grandchild.” 

My grandparents visiting my 2-and-a-half-month-old daughter.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become keenly aware of one thing: Life never stays the same. Everything – and everyone – changes. Time keeps going no matter how hard we try to live in the moment or enjoy life the way it is.

My grandmother is now a widow. My grandfather passed away after struggling with memory issues when that first great-grandchild was six years old. Also, my grandmother increasingly struggles with memory, and she might not be able to easily name all seven of her great-grandchildren now, let alone tell which one was born first. She doesn’t always remember our visits, and she knitted extra hats for the great-grandchildren this past Christmas because she wasn’t sure how many kids there were.

That card was a flashback to eight years ago, when my grandparents were bright and active, and I am glad for the many years we had together.

Those were my grandparents who prayed faithfully during my pregnancy with my first daughter. My daughter was diagnosed with mildly enlarged brain ventricles and we faced some unsettling possibilities, but she was born completely healthy.

Those were my grandparents who were ever the pair of cross-country travelers. When my oldest daughter was 2-and-a-half months old, they drove from their home in central Indiana to meet my daughter and stayed overnight at my home in St. Louis, all as part of a larger trip that included seeing my cousin perform in a college music recital. I made homemade chili in the Crock Pot, my grandmother got her baby-holding fix, and we took many treasured photos.

Those were my grandparents whom we used to visit annually during my oldest daughter’s early years. We stayed in the guest bedroom in their home, and they loved cooking for us and taking us to McDonald’s and to their church.

By the time my second child, another daughter, was born, my grandparents were slowly declining. They moved from their home to a small apartment, and our growing family could not easily fit in the smaller living quarters for overnight visits. Soon, my grandparents moved to an assisted living facility, and my grandfather passed away six months later. I send grandma little notes and photos, and we visit when we can.

As I looked at my grandmother’s card taped into my journal, my second daughter who is now 4 years old danced up to me and asked for help dressing a Barbie doll. Her little fingers have not quite developed the fine motor skills to manage tiny snaps or coax plastic arms through narrow sleeves. I dressed the doll, and then I hugged my daughter for a long, thoughtful moment, enjoying her presence.

Babies don’t keep. Neither do parents or grandparents. Everyone grows up, grows old, and eventually passes on. Love your children and grandparents while you can, while you have them, because they never stay as they are.

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Category: Grandparents

Tags: grandparents