“Grandparents can be very special resources. Just being close to them reassures a child, without words…about change and continuity…about what went before and what will come after” – Mr. Rogers
Today is Grandparents Day at our school. It’s a celebration of the special relationship a grandparent has with their grandchildren. There’s no other connection like it.
When I was five, I remember very clearly sitting with my grandmother and thinking, “she’s my favorite person.” She was a fountain of love, showering me with warmth and affection.
When I was a kid, I was a difficult eater, but my grandmother never got flustered or angry. She would plop down next to me, scoop a spoonful of rice and khoresht (Persian word for stewed dish), and ask me to eat…for her. I grudgingly obliged. But then, she’d follow up and ask me to eat another bite…for her. And another. Then another.
Finally, I’d say, “That’s not fair! You can’t keep asking me to eat ‘for you’!” She’d say, “I know. But this one. This is the last one.” And before I knew it, I finished my plate. She was a bit of a rascal that way.
My grandfather was a proud, strong man in a thin, wiry body. It didn’t matter if I was three years old jabbering about nonsense or if I was a twenty-something jabbering about nonsense, he would listen to me with interest and speak without judgement.
I still recall his advice on how to know you’ve found the right person to marry. “If you can sit together on a dirt floor (in Iran, it’s custom to eat on the floor on top of a sofreh, a table cloth kind of like a picnic blanket), eat noonopaneer (bread & cheese), and remark how delicious the meal is, THAT’S how you know she’s the one!” If you can live in poverty with your partner and still find joy in the little things, then you’ve found something special.
As I got older, I found comfort and peace simply sitting next to my grandparents in silence. When I was around them I felt grounded, even in the most chaotic times in my life.
Sadly, my grandmother passed away a couple years ago after a tragic fall in the middle of the night broke her hip. It was a devastating loss. My grandfather was never the same. Following her death, he would sleep every night cradling a picture of her over his chest.
Unfortunately, he passed away in August in an injury he sustained from protecting my aunt from a thief on the streets of Tehran.
It’s heartbreaking to know they are no longer around. When I look at my own kids, I wonder what it would feel like to meet their children one day (if I’m lucky enough to live that long). Will I have as extraordinary an impact on their lives as my grandparents had on mine?
For today, I just want to honor the imprint they left on me. I hope my grandfather is sitting next to my grandmother somewhere in heaven, eating noonopaneer, remarking on what a joyful life they lived.