In my twenties, all of my grandparents had passed on. I’ve never really thought about that until the other day when my mom pulled out some pictures of my Nana and I realized how differently I look at her today than I did with my younger perception on the world. I wish that someone had told me what it feels like to lose all of your grandparents before the age of 30 because maybe I would have done things differently.
My parents had me when they were 30, and their parents had them when they were older, so unlike many people who seem to have a 40-year difference or less, I had a 60-year difference or more. That’s why I’m left with no grandparents at such a young age.
My dad’s dad died before I was born and my mom’s mom died when I was young. My mom’s dad did get remarried, and his wife – who I thought of as grandma – died when I was quite young too. So, all I ever really knew as I grew up was my mom’s dad and my dad’s mom.
When My Nana Died
The last of my grandparents to pass away was my grandpa when he was 80. I was distraught. Because he was my last grandparent, I viewed him differently.
When my nana had died only a few years before him, I had just come into an age where I started to realize that you can’t take people for granted. I realized that you need to spend more time with family because, one day, they will be gone.
My nana had dementia for the last 10 years of her life, so I had a lot of time to adjust to the fact that I would never have the nana who annoyingly stroked my hair (it’s not so annoying when I look back on it), laughed at my silliness, and gave me money for no reason back again.
I was in my teens when her mind started to go. I would visit her, see the lack of awareness in her eyes, and understand that my nana was gone. The only part of the original her left was her hunger. My nana enjoyed a good meal, and even with her dementia, that didn’t go away. She died she was 90-years-old, and it seemed natural for her to pass on because she had spent so long in a nursing home.
But still, before that, even though there had been death in the family, it seemed like everyone was going to live forever and there was no need to worry about that kind of stuff.
I Realized That You Got To Make The Most Of Your Time With Your Grandparents, But…
After my nana’s death, I tried to spend more time with my grandpa. I lived in an apartment a few blocks from his house and I would go over once a week to visit and play cards with him.
Looking back on that time, I can’t understand why I didn’t go over more. I kick myself when I think of how close I was to him and how easy it would have been for me to go over and visit much more. But, at the time, it didn’t occur to me to do so.
I was young, and I was focused on partying, dating, and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. So, even though I had the realization that life was short, and I should make the most of my time with my Grandpa, I still didn’t visit him enough or appreciate him enough. And that’s something I will always regret.
With The Awareness I Have Now, Things Would Be Different
As I approach 40, I know that my relationship with my grandparents would have been much different if I had the awareness I have now.
In my selfish teens and twenties, I always talked about myself. That’s just what you do when you’re younger. You think the world revolves around you. But now I can see that my grandpa had so many awesome talents, stories, and insights that I would love to be able to ask him about.
For instance, I love to write, and I had no idea that my grandpa also loved to write. He wrote fiction stories. He wrote about his thoughts on humanity. He wrote about his experiences. My mom kept everything he wrote, and I only found out about it a few years ago. The fact that I can’t ask him anything about his passion towards writing is extremely hard to deal with.
Moreover, when I’m stumped by something, I often think that my grandpa would have the answer. Forget Google… my grandpa knew so much information about things with awesome stories to back it up that I would definitely go to him first.
And I would give anything to listen to my nana go on about memories from her past again. I never really listened to her because I always felt like I had better things to do, and now I can’t even remember what most of those stories were about because I was so busy thinking about nonsense.
What I Recommend Anyone With Grandparents Does Today
I recommend you get to know your grandparents when they are alive and appreciate them.
- Ask them questions.
- Listen to their stories.
- Try to figure out who they are as a human being, not just as a grandparent.
Give yourself the GIFT of getting to know them as much as possible so that when they die, you won’t have to say things like ‘I wish I would have asked them about that,’ or ‘I wish I would have listened more when they wanted to tell me a story’.
The fact is that you grandparents have a complete history of experiences, thoughts, beliefs, fears, aspirations, letdowns, and successes, and the more you get to know about those things, the more you will make the most of your time with them.