Grandparents Day, officially recognized by President Carter in 1979, occurs this year on Sunday, September 13. These grand gems deserve much recognition!
According to Psalm 145:4, “One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” I am eternally grateful for the family and friends of previous generations who have nurtured my faith and served as my role models. They are nothing less than sage superheroes.
Many of them wore overalls or aprons, not capes or masks; but they all put on the full armor of God. Ma and Pa Sartain, Ma and Pa McCullough, Daddy Warren, Ma Shelton, Pop Churchman, Grandma Treva, Miss Dean, aunts, uncles, neighbors, Sunday school teachers, and many others impacted the early years of my life.
My grandfather had a limited education, but he was one of the wisest men I’ve ever known. He taught me faithfulness, generosity, kindness, honesty, compassion.
In the book of Ruth, Naomi adopts her daughter-in-law’s baby as her own grandchild. Naomi is obviously Ruth’s superhero! “Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and became his nanny.”–Ruth 4:16
In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods, Pa Ingalls tells Laura about the faith of her own grandpa.
“Supper was solemn. After supper, Grandpa’s father read aloud a chapter of the Bible, while everyone sat straight in his chair. Then they all knelt down, and the father said a long prayer. When he said, ‘Amen,’ they got up from their knees and each took a candle and went to bed.”
These habits, commended from one generation to another, create a community of faithful believers.
My own grandparents shared with me the importance of praying and reading the Bible and going to church. I can still see my mother’s father reading his well-worn Bible in his chair in the corner of his little house in the country.
A cousin who lived for a time with my paternal grandmother recently shared with me our grandmother’s routine of praying on her knees before getting into bed every night. While I never saw my grandmother in this prayerful pose, I saw her faith in the life she lived.
For a week every summer my sister and I vacationed “in the country” with my mother’s parents. My grandfather taught us to milk cows and bale hay, and my grandmother shared her cooking and gardening skills. We learned how to tie a June bug to a string and spit watermelon seeds and gather “hicker nuts” and thrive on our grandparents’ love.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” –Proverbs 22:6
Johanna Spyri reveals this kind of relationship between grandchild and grandparent in her children’s classic Heidi. Through Heidi’s grandfather, Peter’s grandmother, and Klara’s grandmamma, loving relationships develop throughout the story as the characters spend quality time together. Through the examples set before them by these grandparents, Heidi and her friend Klara learn to find faith in God as a result of and in spite of their difficult circumstances.
Heidi tells Klara, “We must pray to God every day, and tell Him everything, everything; so that He can know that we do not forget Him, and then He will not forget us. Your grandmamma told me so. But we ought never to think that God has forgotten us because He does not grant our prayers, and so stop praying, but rather pray in this way: ‘Now I am sure, dear God, that there is something better in store for me, and so I will be happy, because you will provide.’”
Heidi and Klara become great philosophers as a result of the sage superheroes in their lives:
“Do you know why the stars are so happy and look down and nod to us like that?” asked Heidi. “No, why is it?” Klara asked in return. “Because they live up in heaven, and know how well God arranges everything for us, so that we need have no more fear or trouble and may be quite sure that all things will come right in the end. That’s why they are so happy, and they nod to us to be happy too. But then we must never forget to pray, and to ask God to remember us when He is arranging things, so that we too may feel safe and have no anxiety about what is going to happen.”
In Laura South Sassi’s picture book Love Is Kind, Little Owl, much like Heidi and Klara, faces disappointment and frustrations throughout his day. However, when he spends quality time with his grandmother, he learns the importance of kindness and love. As she rocks and cuddles Little Owl, she shares her wisdom. She is his sage superhero!
Glenys Nellist’s new picture book Grandma Snuggles also focuses on the importance of grandparents in our lives. From prayerful pandas to playful puppies, Grandma Snuggles reminds children that all creatures, including our own human grandparents, are gifts from God. As the young beaver declares, “Grandma snuggles are the best. She’s God’s gift to me.”
The sage superheroes in our lives provide the support and encouragement we need to carry on, to forge ahead. Those literal and metaphorical “snuggles from grandma” reassure us that all will be well.
Even though my grandparents are no longer living, I am reminded of them often. I snuggle under my grandmothers’ quilts in the winter, and I still hear their wise words of advice. I am proud to carry on their legacy of faith.
If possible, go and spend some time with your own grandparent or another sage superhero in your life.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” –Julian of Norwich, a prayerful superhero of the Middle Ages
“Every house needs a grandmother in it.” –Louise May Alcott
James 1:17; Proverbs 13:22; 2 Timothy 1:5