Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Grandparent Connection

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Occasionally, I will be inviting featured guests to blog. If you'd like to be featured, please email me. To be included, your stories need to be inspiring and positive. I'm mainly seeking stories about how you started or how you managed to create a life you enjoy and are passionate about.

Please enjoy Guest Blogger and Author Gayle Trent...

Gayle lives in Bristol, Virginia with her husband, daughter and son. Gayle previously worked in the accounting and legal fields, and her last such job was as secretary to a Deputy Commissioner in the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission. Though she enjoyed the work, it was a long daily commute and she felt she wasn't spending enough time with her family. Now she writes while her children are at school; and thanks to a crock pot and a bread machine, can often have dinner ready when everyone gets home.

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After having children of my own and seeing my parents with my children, I'm inclined to agree with Bill Cosby who said, "These are not the people I grew up with! These are old people who are trying to get into Heaven!"

But does the "grandparent connection," i.e., the love, the spoiling, the attitudes, work the other way as well? Would a child treat a grandparent differently than he/she would treat a parent?

I asked myself this question one weekend as I was giving my eighty-six-year-old grandmother a makeover. Yes, a makeover. If you knew my grandmother, you'd understand. You see, Grandmother has not had a pie life. In fact, she's had more than her fair share of rough spots. Yet, through it all, she held her head up proudly knowing, as she'd so often been told, that she was one of the prettiest women in town.

"I used to be…." Most often a sentence that begins with those four words is tinged with sadness…a sense of something once treasured and now forever lost. "I used to be one heck of a ballplayer when I was in school," says the man in a wheelchair. "I used to be a seamstress and sew all my own clothes," says the woman whose hands are so arthritic she can barely move them. "I used to be the prettiest woman in Saltville," says my Grandmother.

She doesn't go many places anymore; but when she does, she wants to look nice. A couple of weeks ago, she was going to a church function so she put on some makeup. According to my mother, Grandmother's cheeks looked like they were flaming. At my mother's appalled expression, Grandmother asked, "I have on too much rouge, don't I?" She then went and washed her face.

I knew she wanted to look as good as she could. I also knew she'd forgotten everything she'd ever known about makeup. So I went out and got all the little goodies women love to play with—from moisturizer to lipstick—and I called and asked Grandmother if she'd like a makeover. Sounding as excited as a child on her birthday, she said she'd love it.

My mother was having a party on Saturday, so I went up an hour early to help Grandmother get fixed up. Again, I was struck by her childlike behavior—wide-eyed, obedient, trusting—as I treated her to a makeover. When I finished, she asked for a mirror. "This is not me," she said, at first glance. I thought she was disappointed until she elaborated. "I look beautiful." And she did. [The downside is that now she wants me to do her makeup when she's dead, but I digress.]

The entire incident made me wonder: Grandparents will go above and beyond for their grandchildren, but will the grandchildren return the favor when they're grown? It has long been established that as we and our parents age, our roles reverse. What of the roles of grandparents and grandchildren? Do the grandchildren go back and coddle their grandparents, or do they leave them by the wayside?

If, like me, you were given loads of love, called "angel" and taught the value of a Peppermint Pattie®, you should repay that love with love. If you were driven around on country roads in a Dodge Swinger® with the windows down while singing Broadway show tunes at the top of your lungs, you can at least brighten a day or two with a phone call or a card. And what harm would it do you to bring a smile to the face of someone who searched far and wide for the riding toy you rode the wheels off of?

If you only take, soon there will be nothing to be taken. But if you give, there will always be something coming back to you.
About Gayle Trent:
Gayle Trent is a full-time author. She is currently at work on a new cozy mystery series involving her hobby, cake decorating. The series features Daphne Martin, a 40-year-old divorcee who has begun the second phase of her life with a new home and a new business venture--Daphne's Delectable Cakes.

To find out more about Gayle, visit her websites: or If you share an interest in cake decorating, please visit Daphne's Web site, available via click-through from either of Gayle's sites or at

Murder Takes the Cake is the first book in the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series. Murder Takes the Cake was a semi-finalist in's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest."Yodel Watson was dead. And some people blamed my spice cake."When the meanest gossip in Brea Ridge dies mysteriously, suspicions turn to cake decorator Daphne Martin. But all Daphne did was deliver a spice cake with cream cheese frosting. And find Yodel's body. Now Daphne's got to help solve the murder and clear her good name. Problem is, her Virginia hometown is brimming with people who had good reason to kill Yodel, and Daphne's whole family is among them.-------------

Thanks to the gang at WOW! Women On Writing for introducing me to Gayle!


Camellia said...

This is a big question, a big post. I adored both sets of grandparents, and the grandmothers were there into my adult life. I treasured them and find I still treasure older people, including my parents and mother-in-law when they reached that stage of needing care...a different kind of joy and love. And that doing her make-up when she's dead? Thata, too, will be a task of joy and love. And she'll notice, believe me.

But now, about that make-over. I'm open for one.

Glad to met you here on Allyn's blog.

Allyn Evans said...

I feel the same way, Camellia. This article made me think of my own grandmothers and how much love they showed me while I grew up.

Thanks, Gayle for a great article.

Kathe Gogolewski said...

Very touching story. There is definitely something to that grandchild to grandparent connection. It's an interesting point, one not often discussed. We often hear about grandparents spoiling their grandchildren, but not so much the other way around, which doesn't mean that it doesn't happen! My daughter grew up hearing my mother call her "a star," over and over. At my daughter's wedding a few months ago, she personally pinned my mother's corsage on her, gave her a kiss and said, "Now you're a star."

Gayle said...

Hi, Camellia:

Nice to meet you! Thanks so much for your comments. :-)

As for makeovers, I'd like one with that man and woman who give you $5000 to spend on a new wardrobe. But I don't want them to say mean things about my current wardrobe. If they could see me right now, they'd think I shopped from a dumpster! But, hey, it's cold outside and I'm warm and comfy! LOL!

Beth Blair said...

What a sweet article! I adore both of my grandmothers. One just moved away from me and I'm quite sad about it, she was the only family I had in town. But I'm grateful for the time we had together. I spent a summer in Florida with my other grandmother in my early 20's - let's just say, she is a saint.

The book series looks like great fun! Off to check out Gayle's site.

Jewel Sample said...

While my grandmother was alive I phoned her on a regular basis because she lived so far away. My Aunts assured me that she looked forward to our conversations.

I remember one conversation where we talked about getting older. She said, "Inside my body I think and feel like I did at sixteen. Then I look in the mirror and say, 'Who is that old lady?'"

Many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren paid her back for her investment of her time in them by spending time with her. Now there are many love memories we share with each other from time to time. One such memory was when her and I made sugar cookies together.
I am glad I took the time to visit my grandmother. Now that she is in Heaven, I have no regrets.

Allyn Evans said...

Hi, Gail!

I've always said the same thing about that show too. I can take anything for the $5,000 trade off. But the surround mirrors...

I'm thinking I'd rather go to Tim Gunn's show. He's a lot nicer and gives really fabulous gifts. :)

Prill Boyle said...

I loved your story, Gayle. So touching and well-told. (You're a wonderful writer!) My husband's mother asked me to do her hair this past weekend when I was visiting her in D.C. I can hardly manage my own, let alone style someone else's, but I tried. She was so appreciative. I didn't quite realize how much she wanted to look nice and needed some TLC until I read your post. I'm going to call her in a few minutes and tell her that I love her.

Gayle said...

Reading your posts touches my heart so much! Thank you all! :-)

And, Jewel, I think we can all identify with your grandmother. A few years ago, I decided I'd show my daughter how to turn a cartwheel. I used to do cartwheels all the time. My poor wrists screamed, "Dang, woman! Knock it off . . . or at least lose a few pounds!" On the inside, I was still the girl I used to be. On the outside, I was an overweight, post-twins-bearing woman who could've snapped those bony wrists like twigs! But, on the bright side, I managed the cartwheel. ;-)

smbaileymail said...

Thank you for reminding me of how special my grandmother is - it is past time for me to go and visit her again!!

Cheri said...

I still have fond memories of time spent with, not only both sets of grandparents, but one set of great-grandparents. Sorry to say they are all gone now and I am a great-grandmother.

Thank you for a wonderful story!

Mickkie said...

This post reminded me of when I was young before getting married I used to go and visit my Grandma, I would drive myself there and visit. We would do nails, makeup and hair almost every time. Grandma had a very tender head so she didn't like other people to touch her hair. They just didn't take the care that I did. A new tradition became taking Mandie (my daughter) to visit Grandma in the nursing home. We would all play with makeup and hair and eat cookies together. What great times! When Grandma went on to be with the Lord, I made the decision to do her hair and makeup for her funeral. What an honor to be able to do that last act of love for her. She looked the way she always did so that wasn't an issue and I was blessed by the last few hours I was able to spend praying over her and saying good bye. Thanks for your story the memories it brought back are precious to me!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the interesting information