Are You Multigenerational?

A very close friend of mine lost her mother-in-law today. A mother-in-law who lived close and was involved in her small children’s lives.

She lamented today that her youngest would never even remember her.

And with the passing of her father-in-law a few years ago, there were no grandparents on that side of the family.

When I was growing up, my GREAT-grandparents were alive. Granted, they lived in Germany, and we only saw them in person every 5 years or so, but we KNEW them.

Maybe it was the stories my mom told. Maybe it was the photos I used to pour over. Maybe it was the recorded cassette tapes sent back in forth – which of course were in German – but no biggie, the connection what was mattered.

Declan still has both his grandmothers, and has lost his grandfathers. My father passed long before Declan ever graced this earth, and given my past with him, maybe it’s for the best. Bryan’s dad left us suddenly a few years ago – but Declan still remembers him, talks about him, even *to* him sometimes.

I think the point is, the ones that attach to our hearts stay with us forever.

This article has 19 comments

  1. Meghann

    We are extremely multi-generation. When I was growing up, I had 6 great grandparents alive, 3 of which were still alive when my kids were born. So we’ve got the family pictures with five generations in them.

    The last great grandparent of mine passed away a few years ago. I still have two grandparents left, and my husband has one. My kids get to see them at least once a year, so they are growing up knowing at least a few of their great grandparents.

    Even with all that great longevity and family closeness, sometimes it just throws into stark relief who isn’t still here. Like my mom. It’s hard for me that out of my four kids, only one of them really got to know her, and even he was only 4 when she passed, so his memories are few and fuzzy.

  2. daysgoby

    Thank you, Aimee. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    My mom passed on Valentines Day.
    While it wasn’t totally unexpected, it was still a shock – and the recording of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ she and my step-Dad made and sent to my kids for Christmas has quickly become one of my most prized possessions.

    Mama is still very alive in my kids’ hearts.

  3. zenrain

    At 40, I am very lucky to still have one set of grandparents…my grandmother turned 90 just yesterday!

  4. Anonymous

    I am really sorry for your friend. – m

  5. MB

    Absolutely. All of my grandparents are gone now, but sometimes I imagine that they’re still here. Hard to imagine it’s been so long…they were a key part in my growing-up years.

    Ellie has my mom and dad – sometimes I think she likes them even more than she likes her mama! 🙂 But I also don’t blame her for that!

  6. carrie

    I’m sorry for your friend’s loss. 🙁

    Like you, I grew up with GREATS as well, one of them until I was 16! I stayed w/her for a while to “help” her after a surgery when I was 15 and she said “Carrie, never get married until you are at least 16!” She was totally serious. I still have a grandma (she’s almost 92) and was close to both sets my entire life.

    When my FIL passed away, I was pregnant w/Katie and it made me so sad that she would never “know” him like her brothers did.

    Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I get it. Treasure those who are here when they are here…you never know how long you have.


  7. Heather

    im sorry for your friend. I think talking to your kids about your family, passed on or just living in another country, is important – showing them photos, telling them about them, they’ll grow up with a strong sense of who their family is, of where they belong, where they came from.

  8. Suzanne

    Well put. My grandparents are all gone, as is my father-in-law, so my kids still have three grandparents as well as great-grandma on their dad’s side. My father-in-law died in November, when the baby was 5 months old, and I’m saddened that she’ll never know him…. the twins were 6, so they’ll have memories, but not what I wish they would have.

  9. zipper

    nice post.

  10. Katybeth

    Both sets of my grandparents and one set of Grandparents were alive when I was born and they were an important part of my growing up. it was unconditional love at its finest. My son has strong relationships with his grandparents (my parents).
    My husband and my sons dad died suddenly this past June and I believe the relationship that my son has with his grandparents and the relationship he is growing with his dad; and I am growing with my husband in the”beyond” is helping us without a doubt thrive through our loss.

  11. Heather

    I lost most of my grandparents before I was 25. My last remaining grandparent passed away in January. I connected with my grandparents and were very thankful that they were in my life.

    The girls still have most of their grandparents. Jeremy’s mom passed away a few years ago and for all intents and purposes they lost their grandfather (her spouse, hub’s step dad) then too. He never was really involved and each year at Christmas he tosses some cash at the girls. it is sad because he is the closest in proximity to them but sees them the least. I wish Jeremy’s dad was more involved, but with his dad lives 30 mins away and is afraid of overstepping the boundaries as the hubs didn’t see his grandparents except for holidays.

    Geez, this got long winded. I am sorry for your friends loss and I agree those connections are important.

  12. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Thanks for sharing all your thoughtful comments and stories. You guys rock, as always.

  13. Kim Hosey

    My son’s like Declan (in this way as in so many, it seems). He has both grandmothers, but no grandfathers. My dad died when I was 15, but he is such an enormous presence in our life, so much a part of who I am, that my son feels like he knows him. He’ll talk about “taking after” him or being “just like Grandpa.” He was the one who decided to start referring to him as Grandpa; before that, we’d just say “my dad.” But yeah; the ones we’ve lost remain totally present in our family.

  14. Laurie

    My grandmother was my best friend and I can’t believe still that she isn’t here every day. It’s the worst thing, really. I hate it. It’s also one of the reasons why I’m most sad that I probably won’t have children. Firmly believe for good or for ill no one loves me like my family so it sucks to think I won’t have that tie like she had with me and vice versa. Different time, different world – but I am so grateful to have had her in my life and I feel lucky that she lived to 89. Every day I wish I’d spent more time. You do what you can do, I guess – I just wish priorities were always more clear in the moment.

    xo. I miss you much.

  15. Beth in SF

    My parents were really young when I was born, so I have relatively young grandparents, and I knew my great-grandparents very well. My great-grandpa died when he was 100 and I was so sad. My husband’s grandma is getting up there in years, so my son might not get to remember her, but he’ll know my grandmas and that’s going to be really special.

  16. Danielle

    well said…

  17. Kezza

    I had three great grandmas growing up. Also had all of my grandparents until I was in college, so I had nicknames for them all because they were hard to keep track of! Three grandparents left now, and I hope they live to become “greats” too. That would be pretty special.

  18. J at

    I knew my great grandmother growing up, which was a blessing. My grandfathers are gone (1988, both of them), and my grandmothers are still here (thankfully!).

    My cousins’ mom died last week, which meant that of the 6 first cousins of my generation, none of us now have a living mother. Sobering and very sad. It feels wrong to have two grandmothers, but no mom. Very wrong. Not that I want my grandmas to go anywhere anytime soon, by the way.

  19. Boston Mamas

    Yes, I totally agree. Though at the time it seemed totally crowded and crazy (I’m one of 7 kids), both of my sets of grandparents lived with us for long stretches. What was particularly amazing is that we couldn’t communicate verbally (the kids didn’t speak English, the grandparents didn’t speak Korean) but there was still so much love.

    And for an impressive number of years, Laurel had 3 living great-grandparents (my husband’s side). It makes me ache for my dad a lot. He went too soon.


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