One of the hardest things about emigrating is that I can’t help but feel I’m losing out on the precious time I should be spending with my Grandparents (and Parents). I’m in my late 20’s and I feel lucky to still have 2 out of 4 living, they were able to see their oldest Grandchild get married, they even witnessed the proposal (even though it did nearly give my Grandad a heart attack!) and I’m proud to have been able to let them have that experience. They’ve watched me grow up, but have you ever wondered what it was like when they were growing up? ASK them! LEARN from them! It’s amazing and you won’t regret it.
My Grandparents have always been a routine part of my life. My Dad’s parents always visit on a Saturday, Sunday’s were for my Mum’s parents. Think about the type of things you’d speak to your Grandparents about on a weekly basis. What you’ve been up to, what they’ve been up to, what you’ve seen on TV or in the news, daily chit chat. I was inspired to write this post after what happened at the weekend just gone. My Grandad came round as he always does, but this time he had brought with him a photo album that he’d recently found. It was full of photos and newspaper cut outs from when he was my age. He wanted me to see it before I emigrate and tell me about the pictures HIMSELF.
Now think about this…
I’m nearly 30, my grandparents are nearly 80. When I was born, they were 50. The earliest photos of them that you may be familiar with are from around the time when you were born, maybe back to seeing pictures from your parent’s wedding day. Now put that into perspective. FIFTY. That’s TWENTY YEARS older than what I currently am now. I think about all the things I’ve done in the past ’30’ years and how much I am likely to do in the next 20 or how much I may change in that time. So what was their life like in that time? What did they do before they were parents? How did they meet? What did they look like when they were 20? If you are still lucky enough to have your Grandparents, I urge you to ask them, if you are a parent with younger kids, encourage your kids to talk to them about their life.
I thought I knew my Grandad pretty well, but after the weekend I realised I only really knew about his life from the age of 30+, the 50 years in which my Dad has been born. My Grandad showed me pictures of his life BEFORE my Dad was born. He looked completely different to how I’ve always known him to be. I found out he had even served 6 weeks in the Army! He loved telling me the stories and I loved hearing about them.
When I discovered my Grandparents lives before they were parents themselves, it’s so much clearer to see parts of my personality that I share with them and that must run in the family. I definitely get my love of adrenaline from my Grandad…he’s late 70s and still rides a Harley Davidson motorbike (fast)!
As I’ve got older and I’ve found my love of travel and photography, it makes me sad that I’ve now missed out on time with my other Grandad that passed away when I was still at school. He travelled around a bit when he was younger and loved photography and now it’s too late to share stories and learn from him. My Nanna (his wife) was always such a cheerleader when it came to my early travels! I recently went to stay with my Nanna’s Brother on the Dorset coast and it was great being able to swap travel stories with him and he taught me how to use a manual camera, I’d never really understood it before! I really appreciated the time I was able to spend with him and discovered how much I had in common with him! (If you’re reading this Uncle Bill, your little red suitcase is currently acting as a security guard for the most important document in my life at the moment…my visa package that I have to give to the border when I land in America! Thank you!)
Ways To Feel Closer After Emigrating
Even when I move from the UK to America, I plan for my Grandparents to still be very much a part of my life. I may not be able to see them in person and they won’t be able to make the 4000 mile trip to visit me but I still want to be in regular contact with them. They don’t own computers or smart phones so I’ll have to communicate in a way that suits them.
- Mail – Good old fashioned snail mail! For as long as I can remember, my Granny has been sending Jesse cards and random letters to America…and I’m not even there yet! I’ve always loved this and the way that they’ve embraced and support our crazy relationship! When I’m in America I plan to send them both mail, such as updates and pictures of my new surroundings and the things I’ve been doing. It’s not like they can follow me on Facebook and this will hopefully show them that I’m still thinking of them and it’s more personal than just getting my parents to pass on messages and show them things on the computer!
- Facetime/Video Call – Every month or so we plan on making their Saturday visits to my parents house coincide with a decent time in the USA. This way I can still have a ‘face to face’ chat with them and join in random conversations via my Parents ‘technology’!
Life is too short to not make time for your family. This goes for your parents as well, find out about their childhoods too!
Have your Grandparents ever shared an awesome story with you? Let me know in the comments below!