I think often about my grandparents, who are sadly no longer living. I miss them a lot. So, I decided to make a new one. I created a new Grandma.
It’s my Aunt Dot. We’ve always been close with Aunt Dot — she’s my grandmother’s sister. I think that technically makes her my Great Aunt. I decided to upgrade her to Grandma.
It was a Sunday afternoon that I gave her a phone call out of the blue: “Hi Aunt Dot — it’s Danny!” Words don’t quite describe the joy in her voice from my call.
We spoke for a long time. About work and family and life. About my wife and my new baby, Graham. Aunt Dot had just moved into a new home from her own apartment where she used to live right next to my Grampa Maury. We talked about a lot of things. And not long after we hung up, my Mom called me to tell me about how much it had meant to Dot. It had meant a lot to me too. And just a simple phone call.
I called her again the following Sunday, and again the next Sunday, and just kept on going. Now I call her every Sunday, and sometimes just out of the blue, maybe during a run, or anytime I feel like calling a Grandma.
Her two children, Linda and Seth, are both grown up, and both have disabilities. They live next door to each other in a special home for other people like them — They are both nearly blind, but they have jobs, and they have a great life. They’ve both lived into their 50's. My parents visit Linda and Seth often, and when I was growing up, we volunteered at the Special Olympics, and we made it a point to make Linda and Seth part of our lives.
There’s a new closeness I have with Aunt Dot now, just because I made the decision call her all the time and to treat her like a proper Grandparent. I’ve always wanted to have a big family, with lots of kids. I thought I might be one of those families with a few adopted kids in addition to my own. Right now, I’m happy to have my adopted Grandma and to call her all the time and visit when possible.
This week, I’m going out to get her the new Dell tablet loaded up with Skype, so we can video chat, and she can see the baby. She lives in Boston and we are in Brooklyn. It’s not far to travel, but we don’t get up to visit as often as we would like.
I’d like to Skype with her as much as possible. I’d like for her to get to know my son Graham as he grows up. And hopefully he’ll get to know Aunt Dot like a Great Grandma.
I was thinking that there could be an app, or a service to connect young people with Grandparents. But I realize that most of us are lucky enough to still have older people within our family circle, and these are the people we could be connecting with. It’s just the small extra effort to call often and to stay connected.
So, the personal experience I’ve taken from this is this : I now have a living Grandparent again. I love my Aunt Dot, and I hope I’ll always have a Grandma to call.
It was a simple as deciding that Aunt Dot would be my Grandma. And it worked.