As you may or may not realize, Monday, July 26, is the feast of St. Joachim and Anne, grandparents to Jesus. I think that sometimes they are forgotten in the story of Jesus and his life here on earth. Gratefully, Pope Francis has designated July 25 as World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly this year, with the theme of “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). This year more than ever, because of COVID and visiting restriction, etc., many grandparents have missed visits from their grandchildren, so it is very timely that the Pope has initiated the celebration of this day in connection with Jesus’ grandparents.
In the USA, the holiday is celebrated the Sunday following Labor Day. This year it will be on Sept. 12th. I decided to reflect on this idea as I was so fortunate to have both of my grandmothers close by while growing up – Babcia in Polish. My dad’s mom worked in the school where our sisters taught and we lived in my mom’s mother’s apartment building all in Greenpoint NY. Almost every Sunday we would walk or drive to my Babcia Donach’s home and have dinner with my other cousins and their parents. We had a grand time!
Every summer for as long as I can remember we went to our Babcia Urbanowicz’s shack in Ridge, on Long Island: no running water, electricity, and we built an outhouse each year! Together we learned how to garden, make tomato sandwiches, and pick the right kind of mushrooms. With our three other cousins, we had a wonderful time out of the heat of the city.
Why share all of this? Well, first, it was a nice trip down memory lane, and secondly, it reminded me of the love and respect we had for our grandparents. It wasn’t the idea of what they could give us but the simple joy of ‘being’ with them and celebrating each day. They were a mainstay for us, women of wisdom and experience, holding us close yet allowing us to make our own mistakes. Grandparents have been compared to a sturdy piling in a marina that keeps the boat anchored, allowing the craft a chance to drift away with the tides and current, but always keeping the craft securely connected with lines of love onto the dock in a safe harbor.
If you think about it, it is similar to the relationship that we have with God. He loves and forgives us constantly. Hence, “I am always with you”, from Matthew’s Gospel. Today, do you have the opportunity to share that intergenerational living? Some are fortunate enough to have that experience, others not so. I fear that as in some areas of our life, the respect for elders has been lost. I often admire those cultures that actually reverence their elders. There are some values worth holding on to.
As we celebrate World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly this year, reflect on your experience of grandparents, what have you kept, what have you forgotten, and what will you share with the next generation. Remember all of this can bring us back to our relationship with God, for “I am always with you.”
Till next week,