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The Club Sandwich Generation

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Release Date: 05/01/2020

The Power of Story, Part 3 show art The Power of Story, Part 3

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Emily wraps up the third episode on "the power of stories" with a chat with an executive from Scholastic, Inc.--the source of all those books sold to grade-school students from newsletters and book fairs. Their conversation took place just before World Read-Aloud Day, which framed their talk about grandparents reading aloud to their grands. THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's Essay): The Genetics of Reading   When I visited the home of my maternal grandparents, I don’t remember seeing a book in any room of the house. It was a stark contrast to our own house with books in each room and a...

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The Power of Story, Part 2 show art The Power of Story, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Continuing the theme from last episode, Emily speaks with a 93-year-old grandfather, author, and active advocate of capturing and then "unleashing" grandparent stories. His creative partner in their website adds helpful details about a program that helps grands become powerful and prolific story-makers. SHOW NOTES Jerry and Deanna's website is grandparentsunleashed.com, and  Jerry's book is The Grandest Love, available .

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The Power of Story, Part 1 show art The Power of Story, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

How well do your grands know your story? Emily travels (virtually) to Trinidad to speak with Felicia Chang, a professional in the area of capturing the personal stories of our families, with a special emphasis our elders. Your story has worth and power...and is of priceless value to your grands. EPISODE NOTES Felicia Chang's TEDx Talk about how the stories of our loved ones connect us all is . Her business has a and a . This is Felicia with her dear grandmother, the subject of her movie and the inspiration of her view on capturing stories.

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Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 2 show art Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Continuing last episode's theme, this time Emily talks with a grandparent in the US and a parent in France whose extended relationships span oceans, languages, and cultures. Adventure seasoned with selflessness is the recipe. THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's essay)   “We’re moving to Brussels.” Those words shocked me even though I was twenty-one, living in my own apartment and working on my graduate degree. My parents called from NH to inform me that my dad had taken a job in Belgium. “Where is that?” was my immediate reply. (I was in grad school for English Lit, and obviously...

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Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 1 show art Distance/Global Grandparenting, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Back in Season 2, we did an episode on Long-Distance Grandparenting which proved to be a popular subject. When the distances are really long--international--you'd think it would be harder. The pandemic has made distance less of a factor that it once was, so experienced global grandparents can teach lessons almost all of us can apply. EPISODE SHOW NOTES Learn more about Emily's guest, author Helen Ellis, at https://www.distancefamilies.com. Her book will be out in April, 2021. 

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Grandparent Educators, Part 2 show art Grandparent Educators, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Some grandparents have the time, talent, and access to become directly involved with their grands' education. Emily talks with two grandparents and a teacher who have done or seen this firsthand, which may give you ideas on how to approach this in your extended family. SHOW NOTE Learn more about Emily's third guest, Sandra Williams, from her and her book, .  

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Grandparent Educators, Part 1 show art Grandparent Educators, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Grandparents can play a range of roles in their grands' education. In Part 1 on this topic, Emily talks with a retired teacher whose journey through racial segregation in the 1950s shaped her commitment to supporting the schooling of her descendants. Emily's essay is a revealing self-portrait of a third grader, a pen pal, and a missed opportunity Emily's guest Kaaren Rodman provides details on her family's scholarship: "Our family has set up a scholarship that is awarded through the Indianapolis Urban League. Mike and I did smaller grants for several years in the 90's, one for each set of...

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Grandparent Love, Part 2 show art Grandparent Love, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

The centerpiece of this episode is Emily's interview with best-selling author Barbara Graham, who has written about the collected experiences of gifted and famous grandmothers. There are lessons to be learned from her work... and from Emily's essay about loving our grands well with the time we find. Learn more about Emily's guest and her work at .    The Stretch It Takes: Competing With Time (Emily's Essay)   If there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught me, it’s that time looks and feels different to different people, depending on their age and their...

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Grandparent Love, Part 1 show art Grandparent Love, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

To begin Season 4, Emily talks with two members of her network on how to put our love for our grands into action--with purpose, and intentionality, and clever ideas.  The payoff is a richer relationship, even when it's largely a long-distance one. To learn more about our two guests visit and .         

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Spotlight on Emily show art Spotlight on Emily

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

While we take a break between seasons of The Grand Life Podcast, we're inviting host Emily Morgan to the guest's chair for a change. With husband and producer Mike, she covers choosing content, finding guests, and balancing the living of The Grand Life with her podcasting about it.

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More Episodes

As lifespans increase and money gets tight, today's grandparents are caught in a "club sandwich"--layers of caregiving that go one generation back and two forwards. If you take care of your parents, your children, and you grands, then you're part of The Club Sandwich Generation. Emily and her guests talk about challenges and anxieties, impact on the extended family, and how to take care of yourself.

SHOW NOTES

Larry Lannan (in this episode with his wife Jane) has produced a podcast for four years focusing on public affairs in Fishers, Indiana at LarryInFishers.com. He's recently shifted focus to the arts and non-profits--so he can devote more time to his club sandwich.

DeeDee (@morethangrand on Facebook and Instagram) runs a website and blog full of great ideas on grandparenting at morethangrand.com

THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's essay): Inside the Club Sandwich

  We would head down the steep driveway, park the car in the carport, and then walk up the open stairs to greet my grandmother who was waving from the porch of her double-wide trailer home above their garage.  For years, she rarely sat down while we visited. Instead, the rest of us sat in a tight semi-circle of lightweight striped lawn chairs while she acted out stories of her busy days - days that seemed to consist of couponing or writing letters of complaint to the city about this or that infraction. The whole time, our warm backs were facing the Conodoguinet Creek, a 104 mile long tributary of the Susquehanna River -a river named by the Native Americans which means “A Long Way with Many Bends.”  Such an apt description of how our family’s life and her life functioned over many years. 

  Nana lived in Pennsylvania, alone for years after my grandpa died. My family lived in NH.  At 100 years old, Nana still lived by herself in her own home until she passed away at nearly 105. Seems almost impossible to believe, doesn’t it? But the factors that made it possible are also almost as unbelievable and speak to the subject of how grandparenting has evolved over the decades.  

  Of my parent’s six 6 adult children (spouses included), 9 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren, only one other family unit now lives within an hour of them. The rest of us have moved across the country from NYC to Colorado. My parents are mostly isolated in their home in NH. Many families I know have similar stories. 

  What makes this different, I think, is that when my grandmother started needing care, my parents made the decision (in their mid-80’s, mind you)  to drive the 10 hour trek every three weeks, stay in a hotel, and tend to my grandmother. They did not move there to be closer. They did not insist that she move to be with them. Instead, they hired out other people to oversee things when they were gone. And even when they weren’t there in Pennsylvania, my mom was on the phone every day to check in on her mother. This went on for many years. 

  Understandably, they had little energy for anything or anyone else. Their relationships narrowed to the caregivers and the hotel staff. If we wanted to get in a visit, we resorted to traveling to meet them at the hotel restaurant or pool. To me, our disconnected family,  separated by hundreds of miles, felt even more disjointed. 

  Until just a few years  ago, I and my siblings were sandwiched between grandmother and mother and father on one end,  and on the other end, children and grandchildren.Smack dab in the middle.  My sisters and I felt the weight of watching my parents strain through the care of my grandmother, but nothing compared to the burden they shouldered. 

  It has been two years since my grandmother has died, and in those two years my parents have been consumed with sorting, gathering, and selling her belongings; making sense of her financial holdings; working to pay back taxes on her property; and finally hiring a realtor to sell her home. Communication between the generations was often lacking, and even after my grandmother died, we were finding hidden savings bonds, twenty-dollar bills in books, piles of expired coupons, and unresolved paperwork...the kind of paperwork, involving lawsuits and complaints she would act out on the front porch for us. My parents were there for her, but Nana had abdicated responsibility to help them through the aftermath by not preparing them for her own death when she was well enough to do so. 

  A multi-generational family is a blessing - to be sure - but let’s face it, it’s not easy. Demands are high and expectations can be a strain. I watch my parents now, living alone and independently, and I worry. Will they repeat the same mistakes? Will they keep their information hidden from us until it’s too late? In the meantime, how will things progress? 

  They are nearing 90, and I have so many friends who are now caught between caring for their parents and being available for their sons and daughters, and the  births of their own grandchildren. For me, these questions account for many sleepless nights. Will a move be necessary? Will my parents consent to living somewhere else? Do they have their affairs in order?

  This is a case in which those relationship muscles must stretch in both directions. I must be willing to ask the questions, but also, the generations before me must be willing to consider the answers. You might feel similarly. Like the river’s name on my grandparents’ property, the journey we take with family will have many bends. Here’s to the flexibility to go with the flow and bend along with it. 

© 2020 Emily Morgan