Every family needs such a grandma

Urszula Buglewicz

Grandmother’s Day (21 January) and Grandfather’s Day (22 January) are remembered not only by the youngest that eagerly make colourful cards and memorise the most beautiful poems but also the older that use the wisdom and help of their parents every day. In turn, for grandmothers and grandfathers who were given armful of flowers and wishes it is a time of exceptional joy and reflection.

The first story

‘Grandma is a very dear and close person; you can always count on her. She hugs her children and grandchildren, gives them immense warmth and opens her heart to their needs. She can make them laugh and can comfort them.’ Agata, Piotr, Malgosia and Michal Jachacz have no doubts about it. Grazyna Kolczuga, their mother and grandmother, is the best person under the sun. ‘Grandma is nice and dear’, says Malgosia, a third grade pupil of elementary musical school. It takes her only a few minutes to go from home to her grandma who often meets her after the lessons and is the first to listen to her daily joys and worries. The great friendship between them, although the age difference is enormous, is nothing extraordinary. ‘This is a normal situation’, thinks Agata, Grazyna’s daughter and mother of Malgosia, doing her best to make every day ‘a grandma’s day.’ ‘We love our mother and she loves us’, she says. ‘We can always count on her help and advise. She is the guardian of tradition; she passes to our children and grandchildren all that is most precious in life. She teaches us how to believe and love with all her life, words and examples. My mother is simply a good person. Although they do not live together they very frequently see each other. Agata and Piotr help their mother but also they often use her help. Grandma cannot be replaced when you must stay longer at work or when children get sick. Her home has been a safe shelter in the time of every – small or big – life storm. Thanks to her perfect understanding and ‘inter-generational agreement’ married couples can realise themselves professionally. They have been sure that their children are safe with their grandma because they are at the best possible place. ‘I can’t imagine that my mother brings up my children differently than me. My son goes to gymnasium; so we worked out a common way for several years. We have the same values and aims and this is most important. Naturally, each of us has her own methods but thanks to that we complement each other as far as upbringing is concerned’, Agata says. Sometimes it happens that – as between mothers belonging to different generations – they have different opinions. But you cannot speak about any conflict. ‘It is natural that we make remarks about our ways. If I do not like anything concerning my mother’s behaviour towards me or my children I can tell her about this. She does not take it to heart. She knows I do not want to discredit her. We can always talk and in spite of different opinions we can follow one way. For the good of my children’, she stresses. Although Agata did not know her grandmothers (one had died a year before she was born and the other died when she was only one year old) she is sure that her mother deserves the title of the ‘best grandma’. When she got married she got to know and love Piotr’s grandmothers. ‘One of them, Stanislawa, is dead. But I remembered her as an exceptionally good person, open to other people’s needs, who could share literary anything with them. By the way, for her help for the Jews she was awarded the medal the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’. We visit our second grandma Janina a few times a year because of the distance. But our every visit is a joy for her. She is glad to see her grandchildren and great grandchildren and although she is over 80 she always asks about our problems. For years she has been my real grandma’, she says. Michal, who attends gymnasium, can see a great role of his grandma. The teenager who does not visit his grandma as often as his younger sister, is not ashamed to admit that his grandma is one of the most important people in his life. ‘Every meeting with his grandma is a very important experience for him’, his mother explains. ‘Grandma is always interested in my son’s matters. During our meetings she asks for everything, she listens and if needed she makes remarks. But you can feel that these words of reprimand result from her great love.’ Michal agrees with his mother’s words saying that ‘grandma is important because she always is ready to support and give good advice; she helps in hard situations.’ ‘Every family needs such a grandma’, he says with all certainty.

The second story

‘My darling, my everything, my only and unique grandson’, says Jadwiga about her six-year-old grandson. The only grandson, the apple of her eye. As his grandfather Jacek adds ‘he changed literary everything when he was born.’ Mrs Kaminska prepared herself to retirement for one year and a half. When she took the decision she began arranging what she would do in her free time. ‘My grandson was my priority. Perhaps I was too much concerned with my role because at first I tried to interfere in my son’s life and his family too much’, the retired teacher of Polish says. ‘I am still learning how to be a good mother, a good mother-in-law and grandmother. The time of common travel through life, following a road full of roses that are beautiful but have thorns, abounds in various events. ‘It was my dream to have grandchildren; so far I have had only one. I know, especially after the experiences connected with my children, that I should love them just the way they are. For me my grandson is a miracle for the very fact of his appearing. Several years ago I wondered what he would be like. Today I grew to the thought that the dream of what he would be should be left to him. My only dream is that he is healthy and happy’, Jadwiga says. She does her best to care for him when her help is needed and whenever she can help. She simply tries to accompany him in his getting to know the world. Grandma, if she learns to listen to her grandson, can tell him a lot about the world. ‘A child asks numerous questions, is interested in things and through that it deepens its knowledge. She can read books to him and play with him, not necessarily using ‘modern’ toys. ‘Spending time with my grandson I became convinced that his imagination was so fantastically developed; that two joined armchairs covered with a blanket can be a space station, a sedan chair, a car… The kitchen utensils: all kinds of shakers, beaters, covers, which were drums or gears, were excellently useful in games. My little grandson still loves listening to the history of our family; he laughs through his tears at the old adventures and pranks of his daddy; he is interested what he used to play with and whether he was good’, Jadwiga says. What a grandma can offer her grandson – time, understanding, love – returns to her with double strength. ‘I gain so much unconditional love from my grandson… His stretched little hands, hugs’, she says, wiping tears. Every meeting with Jakub is also for her an exceptional lesson of life. ‘The child himself can do many things; he wants to show me many things and it happens to me that I forget myself, I interrupt him and do not listen what he wants to tell me. Thanks to him I learn listening to what another man has to say’, the grandma adds. For Mrs Kaminska her mother was her example. ‘I was observing my mum as grandma for my children and I am trying to be like her. She gave all people much peace and warmth; she was less nervous than me. I can notice that I become calm when I am with my grandson as if I get a flow of patience. You must have a lot of patience for your grandson’, she stresses. Good contacts between grandparents, children and grandchildren also depend on family relationships. ‘You can live in one city and at the same time be far from one another’, Jadwiga says. ‘My mother ‘kept’ my all family together. We used to meet for Sunday and holiday dinners, we often visited one another… I know this kind of family, this family was a model for me. I tried to instil this to my children and I would like to pass it to my grandson. Since what can be more valuable in life than the closeness of another person… A few months ago the life of Mrs Kaminska changed. Unfortunately, she cannot boast of another grandson but she …enrolled at university. ‘Speaking that you can get bored when you retire because you suddenly gain more free time is not true in my case. On the contrary, I am busier than before. Perhaps the reason is that I walk more slowly I do many things more slowly’, Jadwiga says. ‘Some time ago I wanted to be only with my grandson but finally I understood that I could not overwhelm him with my personality, that I could not see in him the only being that would fill my free time. I came to the conclusion that I had to develop and I enrolled in the special university programme. I have already learnt to use computer effectively. I attend interesting lectures. Besides I have colleagues with whom I spend time nicely. I already know that retirement does not have to be sad. And man always learns something new...

"Niedziela" 4/2009

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl