My Grandparents Myself
Reading the tweets on Twitter about the NBC show Baking It on which I was privileged to be a judge, I was really taken by how many favorable responses us granny judges received. Living in the Hollywood area for so many years I’ve been brainwashed to believe that no one wants to see old people on television, or on the streets for that matter. And I must add that in this town old is considered anyone over fifty.
So you can imagine my surprise when young people were writing so many positive things about we judges, and I assure you fifty is well in the rear view mirror for many of us.
Then it dawned on me that perhaps it isn’t really so surprising after all.
Should I assume that I am the only person that adored her grandparents and had an unbelievable relationship with them, especially her grandfather?
My grandfather loved children so as the first grandchild I commanded all of his attention until my brother was born.
When I was a year old he made me an inner tube out of an old truck tire with a seat attached so he could push me around in the ocean. When we were older he took my brother and I fishing in the everglades and I even remember going to the movies to watch Some Like it Hot with him when he wanted to see his old friend George Raft. He made the best dill pickles and his laugh lit up a room, and in every picture together he looked at me like I was a banana split.
Too many of us are castigated for living in the past and told we must be in the present and looking toward the future. Dwelling on the past is a futile effort and waste of time when we could be living in the now…but is it really?
I say poppycock. That’s right. I said, poppycock.
Some days I drive myself to the Santa Monica Pier and sit admiring the ocean remembering the wonderful times with my grandfather.
Do I feel that these moments are a waste of my time? No indeed. In fact it’s rather the opposite. It’s as if I’m back in Miami Beach laughing and kicking my feet as he pushed me along the waves. I can smell the salt air and feel the sun beating down on me and these memories light me up inside even on the darkest days. How can feeling good possibly be bad?
The grandparent/grandchild relationship is incredibly special and to believe that only old people would want to see older people speaks to an inability to connect with the world and see people for who they really are.
I strive constantly to create memories I hope my grandsons will carry with them their entire lives.
When my grandson was four years old and collecting bugs I was on my hands and knees on the sidewalk helping. Although the sight of a bug made me jump five feet into the air under normal circumstances, when he asked me to secure them for him, my fears floated away on a cloud of pure joy at sharing something together. Although now when I ask if he remembers my fearless bug collecting, the recollection seems to have faded.
Yet I know from experience that many of the memories once lost ultimately reappear in time and although I can’t remember for what reason I called a friend by the time I’m finished dialing the number, my earliest memories of Miami Beach as a young child come back into focus whenever I smell the ocean.
So why are these moments of recollection so important as we get older?
In a study at Cambridge University in 2019 researchers found that “recalling specific positive memories and happy life experiences during adolescence may help teens fortify their resilience and reduce the risk of depression later in life.”
All one has to do to verify this thesis is look on Facebook. Every community has pages of memories from their old elementary or high school and the city where they lived as children. These pages are filled with pictures and images and allow users to share stories and reminiscences from their past.
Perhaps it’s simply the innocence we all crave as we get older, the need to believe the world is still that comfy cocoon we once nestled inside filled with play, fun, holidays and grandparents.
Grandparents signify unconditional love, a safe harbor in an often times turbulent ocean. A place to climb back into arms that may not be as toned or strong as they once were, but feel safe against any invader or frightening force.
We need happy memories to ward off the unpleasant ones that have a tendency to surface unwanted and uninvited. A way to reinforce the belief life is beautiful and things do work out in the end; even when they don’t.
Grandparents are the guardians of our memories. They contain all that is good about our youth, a path toward believing and sustaining hope and forcing us to forge ahead even in most difficult times.
It may be as simple as the smell of grandma’s apple pie in the autumn made with fresh apples you picked for her, the sight of your grandfather’s favorite tree you helped him plant or an old television show you watched together. You didn’t get the jokes, but you loved watching him laugh just the same.
So I must offer kudos to the producers of Baking It who truly “get it,” and despite the Hollywood hype about the whole 18 to 49 age restrictions on television and movies, they knew better.
When we can look at television or the movies and see something that makes us feel warm and fuzzy it’s a no brainer we need more of it, and that happily includes all of us grannies.