My grandmothers were the most important people in my early childhood life. During those critical early years it was my grandmothers who stepped in and filled my world with nurturing and adventure. One grandmother was nurturing and when she held me I knew I was safe, the other was such a free spirit, time with her was always a big adventure. It was from my grandmothers that I learned the most important things about myself; that I was loved and therefore lovable; that I was appreciated even though I had flaws; that I was special. When my mother’s patience for my childhood mischievousness wore thin, it was my grandmothers who tried to help me understand. They more than any other person taught me about unselfishness, about care giving and about forgiving.
In the years I was growing up extended family of three generations commonly lived quite closely together. My grandparents were my first and only babysitters and I always considered it a treat to be left with them. I remember my mother lightly reprimanding me about my not caring, when she came to fetch me home. Friends and colleagues of my generation have similar connections to their grandparents, who were strong presences in their lives both physical and psychosocial sense. Sadly, we may have been the last generation to have such close familial physical ties. Grandparents today are often more remote geographically and the physical distance can understandably play havoc with close emotional ties.
You don’t have to let this happen. Even if the results are not quite the same as real-life cuddling there are ways of making long distance connections so that grandparents and grandchildren are not strangers. Today it easier than ever to keep connected with the help of many new technologies. All the different methods of video connecting via the internet, the telephone, photos and the old stand by letters and stories. With a little imagination and effort loving relations have found creative ways to transcend the miles that keep them physically apart.