I moved to this beautiful country I call home in 2003, leaving behind my parents, grandparents, friends, and pets — bringing only two suitcases and many childhood memories. I went through the various busy and eventful life phases, such as college, graduate school, work, more work, and then marriage.
In 2017, while driving around our neighborhood after work, I saw a school bus dropping kids off at 3 p.m. All of a sudden, I started crying — maybe because I was pregnant, and those hormones were pretty imbalanced. But I realized that a typical person works until 5 p.m., and my children will not have grandparents living close by to pick them up from school or keep them until we get off from work.
Half of my life, I spent focused on building my career and future. I worked hard to earn the right to live in this country, but I’ve missed precious time being around my grandparents for 15 years. Now in their 70s, they don’t have too many years ahead of them, and I had to make up the lost time as soon as possible.
My husband and I decided to ask my grandparents to come and live with us for a year. It was not an easy decision to make. I was worried about not getting along or not having enough space. After all, a whole year is a long time — but is it? We were lucky and blessed that their visa got approved, and they got to stay with us while helping raise our newborn baby. A year flew by with a blink of an eye, but memories will last a lifetime. Here are three reasons that this was the best year of our lives.
Benefit #1: Their emotional well-being improved tremendously.
They spent their day laughing nonstop at all the new things that our son was discovering. My grandma forgot that her legs were hurting or that her blood pressure was high. I believe that laughter is the best medicine and while their mood got elevated, so did their health. Every time we visited a playground, I made my grandparents get on the swing and swing their hearts out. My grandpa hesitated at first, but then he became very comfortable with it, and it was the highlight of their day.
Benefit #2: Extra help is always needed.
When I was younger, personal space was vital to me. In my 20s, I had the “I don’t need no one, I can do it all” attitude. After giving birth and numerous sleepless nights later, that attitude changed drastically. We cannot do it all, and it is a good thing to accept help. I will never forget all the faces my grandpa made to entertain my son while I was changing his diaper or all the songs that he hummed to him while putting him down for a nap.
Benefit #3: You are creating lifetime memories.
Those memories are important, not only for you but for your children and grandparents. Take as many photos as possible because one day you will be grateful that you did. A simple visit to the zoo is so much fun with grandparents. The stories that my grandma shared with my son about animals are way more entertaining. I’ve recorded songs and nursery rhymes that she sang to my son on my phone, and now I replay them frequently to my daughter.
My grandparents returned to their country almost 18 months ago, but we talk daily to make sure their spirits are up until we meet again post COVID-19. I realize that not everyone is as lucky to have their grandparents around, but if you do, I pray that they live a long and healthy life.
What are some of your favorite moments you’ve shared with your grandparents?