Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The nearer grandparents are, the better

They say you can't go home again. It's even harder to take your children with you.

My 7-month-old daughter, Mihret, is blessed because her paternal grandparents also are Fox Valley residents. We love our standing Sunday lunches.

But her maternal grandparents live nine hours away in Indiana, as does her 89-year-old great-grandma, my Grandma F.

Something Grandma F. said recently got me thinking about how sad but inevitable it is that many young children now live out of arms' reach of at least one set of grandparents.

"If I were five years younger," Grandma F. said to my mom, who relayed the words via phone, "and I lived where you live, I would baby-sit Mihret."

Aging has taken its toll, and with it this opportunity in a practical sense. But the sincerity of Grandma F.'s wish triggered my memories of a three-year childhood stretch when I lived within 45 minutes of all of my grandparents.

My Grandma F. eagerly "gave in" when I begged to walk to the bookmobile. She said prayers, played cards and sang songs with me.

She also once tested me on "stranger danger" by asking a trusted friend of hers to stop by while I played outside to see if I would go for ice cream. (I got a lecture instead when I said yes.)

My Grandpa V. told me stories about how he landed in Africa and ended up in Europe during his World War II military service.

Grandma V. and Grandpa V. let me help them fetch spring water, pick out sweet corn and solve the newspaper's daily crossword puzzle.

Learning and growing within arms' reach of both sets of her grandparents is what I wish for Mihret, whose weekly link to my parents is a Web camera.

Unfortunately, the technology doesn't do justice to her giggles, and their hugs will just have to wait.

Kara Patterson: Post-Crescent staff writer

No comments: