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The Greening of Grandma

Posted By Jolyn Rudelson On 04.22.2011 @ 2:37 PM In Aging, Disability, Death, Dying | Comments Disabled

EARTH DAY is upon us again, 31 years after its inception in 1970. April seems to be the perfect time to commemorate it.  The snow has begun to finally melt after this very long winter and the buds are appearing on every tree and bush.  A time of year when everything is green.  Reminding us that the cycle of nature has begun again for another year.  But something is different this time.  “GREEN” and “GREENING” seems to have finally become part of our vocabulary and consciousness.   This is the perfect day for us to take time to respect the resources our planet has provided at the same time resolving to do our part to prevent waste wherever and however we can

This might also be the perfect day to  draw attention to one of our greatest underused and undervalued resources.  It is time to “GREEN” Grandmothers and Grandfathers.  Let’s resolve to stop wasting the energy and ability of the 56 million grandparents living in the United States. Some say that youth is wasted on the young but that doesn’t mean that the “old” should be wasted because they are no longer young. Grandparents have so much to give and so much to share, as do all the seniors in our communities.

Grandparents are perfect examples of recycling as they are called on to reprise their role as parent to their grandchildren in times of family crisis. The 2000 U.S. Census reports that 6.1 million children live with a grandparent in the home.  Of the 56 million grandparents,  1.5 million grand mothers and 880,000 grandfathers are fully responsible for all their grandchildren’s needs.

As I state in my book “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU: A Grandparent’s Guide to Surviving Divorce in the family “They put the “grand” in grandparent and are deserving of everyone’s respect.”    For the first time we even have an official “First Granny.”  Marian Robinson, First Lady Michelle Obama’s mother was given that title when  she moved into the White Houses to take care of her two granddaughters when their parents are focusing their attention elsewhere.

The Grandparents of today come with a multitude of abilities and experiences.  They are the resource for all the EXTRAS: love, time, and hands to help. Not all are providing full time care of their grandchildren but are contributing in other ways: in government, in education, and volunteering to charitable causes. There are grandparents everywhere. On this Earth Day let’s think of ways to harness the energy of the Grandparents and other seniors that are available but not active.   There are many who are just waiting for someone to ask them to help. If transportation is an issue, as it is for seniors, there are ways to solve the problem.  Just because a senior can’t drive anymore, or public transportation is not available or feasible doesn’t mean they can’t be effective.

And for you Grandparents out there, who are not actively involved, think of ways you can contribute.  Focusing on other’s welfare will not only help others but will contribute greatly in benefiting your own.   Don’t wait for someone to come to you.  Be proactive and look for places that can benefit from your past experience.  There are food banks, schools, hospitals, religious organizations and political campaigns that are desperately seeking volunteers.  Some grandparents see a need and create their own organizations.  The Internet is a great source to find one that you would enjoy being a part of.  It also shows what a great resource grandparent power is and can be.

Grandparents you may not be a resource that continues forever but while you are on this earth you can do things that will have a positive impact on those around you.  To paraphrase an old proverb, when you go, leave an impression on this earth not a dent.

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