Monday, December 05, 2011
A Fresh Perspective on Grandparents
This is a picture of my grandmother, Camilla La Chapell, taken long before I knew her. In fact, I have a feeling that my dad—the oldest child in his family—hadn’t been born yet. When my cousin sent this picture to me the day after Grandma passed away, I couldn’t stop looking at it. I’ve seen old pictures of Grandma before, but this is the first time that I really took time to appreciate her youth and beauty.
My memories star a grandmother in her late 50s on up. But this picture reveals that she was young once too. She had dreams and plans, friends and hobbies. The grandma who seemed to always wear the same dress when I visited her, obviously enjoyed pretty, stylish clothes and getting “dolled up” as she would call it. She had favorite music and went on dates.
When I look at her smile, it’s hard to believe that she had already survived the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression and was living through World War II. As a girl, she’d lost a little sister to an illness that would have been cured easily today with over-the-counter medicine and traveled from Kansas to California with her parents and six siblings, with all of their belonging loaded on a truck. She had lived on foods that trigger a yuck face whenever I hear about them, like sandwiches filled with nothing but lard or onions. She’d gone to high school but also worked to help support her family. Yet, she looks completely content and joyful. By the time this picture was taken, she’d gone to business college, started working as a bookkeeper at a local air force base, and (I think) married my grandpa. More trials and triumphs awaited her, all of which God used to mold her into the woman that I remember for her strength, courage, generosity, love, and unwavering faith.
What goes through your mind when you consider that your grandparents and parents were once young like you? How many of their stories have you heard? What experiences do you think made them who they are today?
Use the holidays as an opportunity to get to know your family’s older generations in a deeper way. If you don’t have grandparents or don’t get to see them, reach out to an older person at your church or in your community. Pay special attention to what they have learned from both the good and the difficult in life. What might you gain from their wisdom and insight?