Sunday, February 22, 2009

Better off without ?

   I was lucky enough to know and remember all four of my grandparents. 

   My grandfather on my mothers side was the first to leave us. I was 7 or 8 when he died and I remember him as a tall man with graying hair and a pipe. I still love the smell of pipes. The war had left him with a wooden leg. Because of this the English government gave him a small one person car. It was almost like the car a clown drives in a circus. I remember sitting on the floor between the seat and door hiding because he was not allowed to have anyone else in the car. And to be honest their really wasn't room for anyone other then a small child. But he would take me on rides all the time, whenever my mother wasn't looking.

   My grandmother was a typical English granny (Nannie to me). She was short, round and always had a gentle word for me. Unless she caught me picking her snapdragons from her garden.

I still find it hard to resist the temptation to pick one when I pass a garden. After my grandfather died she came to live with us. My sister and I were lucky enough to live in the same house with her while we grew up. When she died with her family by her side she was 93.

   My fathers dad Opa (dutch for grandfather) was also a tall man. He and my grandmother, Oma (dutch for grandmother) lived in Florida, where I was born, for years. They lived on a huge piece of property near where the circus people lived in the winter (that circus reference again, weird). I loved visiting and watching the elephants eat. 

My grandparents also had cats and a basset. I'm not sure its because of them but I now have 2 cats and 3 bassets. Oma was a quite, loving grandmother. She spoke 3 languages and it was fun to listen to her talk to my dad and his sisters in Spanish then turn to my grandfather and speak dutch and then to me and my cousins in English.  Opa was a little HARD OF HEARING and one day I got my head caught in the power windows of his tank-like Oldsmobile.

   Oh the memories.  

   I do have a point to this little walk down memory lane. A good friend of mine is having a hard time with her mother. So hard in fact that they have not spoken in months. My friend, I'll call her "Jane", has two lovely little girls and has decided that because of past and present behavior her mother, I'll call her Mary, she has cut all ties with her and has not allowed her the see the girls. Harsh? I have known this family for 14 years and have seen first hand what Grand Ma Mary is capable of. Now my opinion is just that, my opinion. It's not my family and I will never be in the position that they are in.

   But it brings me to this question ...

   "Do grandparents automatically have the right to be in the grand kids lives just due to the fact that they are blood?"
   Some say that you have to have the grandparents involved or you are depriving the children. What if the grandparents are not nice people? Just because you are a grandmother or grandfather does not mean you are a good person. My partner has horrible memories of this grandmother and the terrible things she would say and do.

   I have seen my friend Jane and her husband with their girls. You could not ask for more loving parents. They also have a huge extended family of friends. Is that enough?Will these girls grow up resenting mom and dad from keeping them from their grandparents? Or will they thank them later in life for making their childhood one of pleasant memories? 

   Thank you Grand Dad, Nannie, Oma and Opa for wonderful memories I will never forget.