Grandparents As Parents

Being a grandparent is one of the best things this side of heaven. Each grandparent thinks their grandchildren are the cutest in the world. Their grandchildren are the smartest, so much smarter than their children were at that age. When grandchildren come to visit, grandparents give them almost anything they desire. They let them do whatever their hearts can imagine and more. This is so true for the preteen grandchildren. As they grow into teenage years it’s another story. Grandparents love grandchildren because after all the fun they have, the food they have eaten, the playing they have done and much more they are packed up and sent home to their parents. Grandparents can then go back to whatever they want to do–they’ve earned it.

Some grandparents can’t send their grandchildren home to their parents because they have become the parents. There have always been grandparents that raised their grandchildren for some reason. There was always Big Mama Susie, Granny Louise, Paw Paw, Daddy James and more who took on the role of raising a grandchild.

In the state of Texas alone there are approximately 823,750 children under the age of 18 living in homes where the householders are grandparents or other relatives with the majority living with grandparents.

According to the Grandfacts State Fact Sheets there are over 315,000 grandparents that are raising grandchildren. Of those:

  • 67% are under the age 60
  • 62% are still in the workforce
  • 23% live in poverty
  • 23% have a disability
  • 26% are unmarried (grandchildren are living with a single parent)

These grandparents having raised their children have once again taken on the responsibility for the day-to-day maintenance of a home, schedules, meals, homework, play dates and more. These items may seem simple, but homework is not the same as it was a generation ago. Years ago play dates consisted of going outside and playing with the kids in the neighborhood. There was no scheduling of activities. Birthday parties consisted of cake, punch and a few games in the backyard or den. There was no social media, cell phones and internet. In addition to time, the majority of these things carry a monetary component.

The grandparents who are raising their grandchildren now have to redo their lives, their dreams and much more. They have to give up their independence and start all over again. Their finances will ultimately take a hit, and retirement may not be in the picture in the near future. That dream of finally starting their own business has again become just a dream.

All of this is not to say that grandparents do not cherish their grandchildren, it’s just that their lives or at least the idea of what their lives should look like at this stage of life will have to change. Their new normal is not the normal they day dreamed about.

There are programs that will assist the grandparents in their new role as primary parents. At my church a senior group meets once a month to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of raising grandchildren when you thought you would only see them on the weekends. It allows the grandparents to learn from others who are in similar situations, and to give guidance to those that need it .

In every state there are organizations that will assist those that are raising children for the second time. AARP has great information in the Grandfacts sheets for the United States and for your state. There are local programs that can assist also.

Grandparents may need a little help when raising grandchildren. Those that take on this task are indeed “grand”. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and just in case you didn’t know my grandchild is the cutest and smartest.

No Money Needed For This Gift

I recently read an article somewhere that talks about how some elderly people can go for weeks without talking to another person. Then it hit me, no wonder they are getting taken in by phone scammers. They are lonely and just want to talk with someone. Most of us if we are honest have sometimes looked at the phone, recognized the number and just let it go to voice mail. Most of us have more than enough human contact.

Last year I got an idea, and it stemmed from an idea that my sister told me about. Her church makes Easter Baskets for the sick and shut in at their church. You know the ones that can’t make it to church because they are ill, don’t drive anymore or for any number of reasons. They even made the decorated baskets a contest–the most creative.

Inside of each basket were things that they thought the people would like such as candy, coffee, even the coffeemaker, a pair of slippers and so much more. It seemed that my sister had so much fun gathering the items, and creating her masterpiece. The church would then deliver the baskets to the members.

So I decided that we would do an Angel Tree for Christmas at my church. We would do it for the sick and shut in. It would be the same as a regular Angel Tree, and similar to my sister’s church Easter Baskets with a few exceptions.

After I gathered all the names, phone numbers and addresses it was announced to the church, and to my great surprise the first Sunday all of the names were taken. The instructions to participate in the Angel Tree were:

  • Select a name
  • Call and talk with the person
  • Ask what they would like for Christmas
  • Ask if you could come over–if they said no which some might for several reasons including a) not looking their best b) house not kept the way they want it to be kept c) just don’t want any company.
  • If they didn’t want any visitors, then ask could you call them from time to time
  • If they agreed a visit was okay you were then to go out and purchase the items
  • You were to take the gift to the person, and sit and talk for a while. Even though you were purchasing a gift, you a were the greatest gift.

It was a great success. I was able to go on two visits, one with a friend. We visited a member in a nursing home. We sat and talked with her. The gift she loved, but she asked for a cold glass of orange juice. The gift basket had wonderful things in it that she had said she wanted, but our conversation and that cold glass of orange juice made her day.

My next stop was the name I had chosen. She wanted magazines and chocolate candy. I decided to give her a sugar high with all the chocolate I bought. After inviting me into her home, we talked about family, church, careers and more. She showed me pictures of her in her younger years, and so many family pictures. Some of the pictures were of her dancing–she said she loved to dance. When others would call her, she would tell them about my visit, not about the candy. My presence was better than candy.

Both of these beautiful people are no longer with us, but they have inspired me to do the Angel Tree again, and expand it a little. This time the names will be on a tree along with the Angel Tree wishes of our adopt a school. So we don’t get them mixed up, we will color code them.

This year I’ve added one more requirement to our Angel Tree. Each gift giver is asked to call and/or send a card to their Angel Tree person at least once or more a month. I’m hoping they will continue to visit the person. Gifts are great, but the gift of conversation and maybe a hug is so much more. Maybe when they visit they will take their children and/or grandchildren with them.

Most of us will be paying for Christmas gifts until Easter, but the gift of conversation and human touch cost nothing. Remember “thisisyourbestyear” and make someones holiday merry because all they want for any holiday is just a little time with you.

A Love Like No Other–Being Grandparents

Who would have thought that becoming a grandparent could be so enjoyable?  From the time that little bundle of joy is put in your arms you find yourself on cloud nine. The love you feel for this tiny person swells up more each time you see them.

Grandparenting has always been special to those that were fortunate enough to know and love their grandparents.  My paternal grandparents lived less than 15 minutes from our house, and my material grandparents lived about an hour away so grandparents were always present.

The ones that lived closer took us to piano lessons on Saturday, picked us up for Sunday School, and had homemade delicious snacks after school.  You know things like hamburgers, french fries, cake, pie–do I need to go on. Those were special times that even now bring a smile to my heart.  The love I had for my grandparents only came in second to my parents.

So when I heard that we would become grandparents 9 years ago I was excited.  I could just image combing the little girls hair, putting in pretty bows, buying cute little dresses, dolls and more.  Then they told us they were going to give us a grandson.  I told them to give him back because we didn’t do boys–just girls. We now do boys.

Who would know that Joseph Foster II better known as Joey to us, and JoJo to his parents and aunt would steal our hearts. I can remember when he was not even walking, and the Dallas Cowboys had an open practice at the stadium–my sister and I picked him up from the sitter and took him to the practice.  We were so excited telling his parents about our outing. Even to this day I know that he enjoyed looking at the big screen.

His aunt and I taught him how to fly a kite when he was about three. Somehow he seemed to always find the one power line, but it was fun.  We decided to make a cake and decorate for his moms birthday.  He used this mixer, decorated the cake and the table.

Even when he was younger and just starting to walk we took him home to Longview to visit our neighbors.  We stopped to have our favorite burger, and he threw so many fries on the floor that we asked the manager for the broom to clean up.  He got a way with things that his mom and aunt could never have done.

No I don’t see him every day, but when I see him, I try to always make it special for both of us. This summer I ask him to write me a letter each week telling me about his week. I love my updates.

Does he like seeing his grandparents all of the time–of course not, but hopefully the memories that we make will mean just as much to him as they do to me.  He knows that his Paw Paw and Honey love him unconditionally.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  You can love your grandchildren, give them love and send them home to be with their parents.  Grandparents need rest after visits. Enjoy your day.

HAPPY GRANDPARENTS DAY!

Go to our facebook page and post a picture of your grandchildren. Share the joy and love!

Breast Cancer Awareness–Prayers For Paulette And Her 8 Children

Bishop T. D. Jakes says it’s your Destiny, you know that happening that was not planned. Rev. Jerome B. Price said it is God talking to you. Who knew that browsing Facebook would lead to something thought-provoking for me, and hopefully for you.

Paulette 19I came upon this site–Prayers For Paulette8Children.  Well you know me, I am assuming there is a mistype, and it should read Prayers for Paulette & Children.  Don’t ask me why I thought that, I just did.  Maybe because I saw this beautiful. bright-eyed young lady with the gorgeous smile smiling at us on most pictures, and besides who has 8 children?  As I read more, I found out this beautiful lady was Paulette McKenzie Leaphart, and yes she has 8 children, and yes they do need our prayers.   Paulette is a breast cancer survivor, she is a fighter, a warrior whose faith continues to keep her, but above all she is a mother of 8 children both biological and adopted.

The following is my interview with Paulette, and I hope I give her and her children the loving justice they deserve.

It took a while for Paulette and I to start the interview, we started by me inboxing her on Facebook, and  connecting by phone to set up the interview. Paulette lives in the Big Easy, and from her tone, she loves New Orleans. 

Paulette’s life before her diagnosis was great, she was beautiful and talented with 8 great children.  She was happily Paulette 15living her life–that is until in a dream God told her she had cancer. Yes, Paulette said God told her she had cancer.  There were no symptoms, but she knew it was the voice of God.  Getting her doctor to believe her was another story.  After finally agreeing to have her do her first mammogram, and it coming back negative, her doctor tried to assure her that she was cancer free.

Paulette knew what she knew, and she was not cancer free.  After seeing how persistent she was he agreed to have her do an ultra sound.  After the radiologist came in and looked at the ultra sound, Paulette knew he had found something, but he did not tell her. A few days later she got a letter telling her to go in to see her doctor because they had found something suspicious. Her doctor performed a biopsy since they had found a tumor–finding breast cancer.

Paulette 16Even after hearing she had breast cancer, Paulette remained calm because she already knew. When talking with her doctor, she was informed that she had a very aggressive cancer, it was stage 2, grade 3.  The doctor told her it was a fast-moving cancer, and because of her family history and the type of cancer, he suggested a double mastectomy.  This was the first time Paulette was at a lost for words, she thought she had been prepared for anything, but a double mastectomy had not ever crossed her mind. Even though she trusted the doctor, she immediately went for a second opinion, and they agreed with the first doctor–a double mastectomy was advised. The surgery was scheduled, and immediately after the surgery there would be breast reconstruction or so she thought.

The doctor who was to do the reconstruction surgery reviewed her files and came to the conclusion that reconstruction surgery would be too taxing on her body since she had other medical ills one of which is a blood clotting disorder.  Paulette thought that this can not be happening, but the doctors explained why they could not recommend the reconstruction, and she agreed and was okay with it.  She had made peace with the idea, but she still sought a second opinion who told her of another procedure that could be done for reconstruction–she decided not to do it.  She was at Paulette3peace with her decision, it was hard, she cried, got angry, but eventually decided no reconstruction was best for her.  In her own words  she told herself “Baby Girl, you still got your sexy”.

When it came to telling her children about her breast cancer, it was hardest telling her youngest daughter who is now 8.  Her baby had just gone through seeing someone die from this disease so her only reference to cancer was death.

Her oldest daughter started the Facebook page because she knew they all needed prayers.  Paulette’s first time reading the page was about 3 months after the surgery. After reading and responding to comments, Paulette decided to take over the page herself.

When she had to lose her hair it was hard for her–after all she is a woman. She did everything to keep her hair, researching, buying products, but in the in the hair came out. She was determined that cancer would not win this battle since it was gong to come out, she thought I’ll cut it off myself which she did, and the barber did the rest.  Even her youngest daughter decided to be just like her mom.Paulette 13

Even though it has been hard for Paulette and also hard for her children, they constantly draw strength from each other.  They had been without a home for a while. Since Paulette did not have health insurance, she had to decide on medication or a roof over their heads. Notice that I did not say they were homeless–they always had the love of family and friends and each other, but most of all they had their faith in God.

Her life has changed, but it is not for the worst.  She has been hit, but not knocked down. Paulette has decided to share every step of her journey with others in the hope they can draw strength from her testimony.

It seems that even In the mist of all her troubles, there were those who are determined to do more to make her unhappy.  Paulette did not lose weight, the treatments made her gain weight.  She even seemed to always be smiling so she can’t have cancer some people thought.  It was amazing to me that people could be so cruel, but again her faith in God keeps her strength up.

On good days she takes her youngest children to music and dance while continuing to make their new house a home.  They all attend church together.  I ask Paulette why she decided to adopt children when her children were just about adults, and she told me it was a promise she made to God when she was an abused child.  Her children keep her strong.  Even though they are children, they step up to fill in the gap when Paulette is unable to do so.

Her doctor says she is in remission, but can’t say for sure if she is cancer free.  Paulette says there is no need because God told her she is.

To see more about Paulette’s story, go to her Facebook Page at : https://www.facebook.com/Prayers-For-Paulette8children-468487063257460/timeline/?ref=br_tf.

Her story will inspire you.  I look forward to meeting Paulette and her 8 children in New Orleans when she celebrates her 50th birthday.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

For two of the bravest women I know–Carol Cooper and Renae Ruffin.

Food For Thought

As a woman of a certain age whose parents are no longer here, I rarely go home.  It seems that when I do go and get together with family it is always for a sad occasion.  Each time we promise each other that we will get together sooner rather than later. I finally made it for a happy occasion.  My Aunt Gladys turned 90 years young, and we came together for this celebration.

As women of a certain age, we should try to get together with family just because. I know my aunt had a wonderful time.  There were five generations of her immediate family–so many that we could not get them all together to take a picture.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Enjoy your family.

Grandparenting Can Make Everyone Call Jesus!

Our daughter and son-in-law went to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras so Honey’s baby was staying with Paw Paw and Honey. I know he had a wonderful time because I try to make each visit something special. However,  we are empty nesters who have carved out a quiet controlled life.  We do not tell each other to use our inside voice. Picking up and cleaning before bed are just things we do. Occasionally we do re watch some television shows, but never so many times the same day. We rarely if ever repeat ourselves or at least I thought I didn’t. I do repeat the phrase Jesus Christ quite a bit though. This phrase made me know that our little man had listened to me over the days he was with us.

Saying all of that he was a joy to have. I know that he learned to call on Jesus. He informed me of this. I was telling him that he needed to clear his place at the table and get ready for school. I was just about to repeat myself again when he said, ” I know,  clean my place–Jesus  Christ, I know”.

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Honey’s baby in hot tub that is until I reminded Paw Paw that little boys like to pee in the water.

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    Ready for bed–didn’t say sleep, just ready for bed.

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         Being computer savy.

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    Saying goodnight to mommy and daddy.

Am I tired?  You bet I am. I forgot to tell you they left his roller skates which I hid. There would be no trips to the emergency room on our watch. We loved the time we spent with our little man, but we need to rest up for the next one.  Enjoy grandchildren and remember they are there for a visit so make it fun.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Not A Rocking Grandma

My mother loved her grandchildren and enjoyed their visits.  They were always special times for the kids and also for her. Since she was still teaching when they were born they usually did weeks in the summer when the would stay with her in Longview.

She adored the calls and letters from them. I don’t think she would be too happy with texting, but then again they were her grandchildren.  I say all of this to say that she would always tell me that she was not a rocking grandma and that she would call when she wanted to see them. This meant if you need a babysitter, you better hire one.

I am my mother’s child. I love my grandson. I try to make each time we are together special.  This week we are doing Vacation Bible School together. Do I keep him every week–I am not  a rocking grandma, but I love that little man and want every occasion special.

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Honey’s baby enjoying one of the best parts of Vacation Bible School–the food.

Remember, “thisisyourbestyear”.

Honey’s Baby Part 2

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We went to visit his aunt who has a dog. He and the dog had too much fun. Our next stop was to get something to eat. I even let him sit on the floor in front of the tv. I sat with him; we talked and talked. Our next step was a bath. We should have bathed first, but I am the grandparent–I know which battles to fight. After a movie and prayers he was off to sleep. Thisisyour(my)bestyear.