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The Evolving Grandparent

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Release Date: 06/01/2020

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

During this Covid-19 pandemic, grandparenting continues to evolve. Who knows? We might even be called upon to teach our grands when school resumes. Grandparenting is constantly  evolving from three generations ago when we, as grandparents, were grandchildren. Where we live, where our grands live, who travels, how often--the expectations are not the same. What is the one factor that had changed grandparenting the most? Explore this with Emily Morgan and her friend Mickey, whose pipe-smoking granny makes for a great story.

Also in Episode 1:

  • Relationship Yoga: Send The Letter
  • Passing On Your Passions: Making Space for Gatherings
  • Great Works for Your Grands: "The Duel" by Eugene Field

THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's essay): Send The Letter

Just recently my grandmother died. We believed she was one year shy of her 103rd birthday when she passed away, but when we went to the Register of Wills, her paperwork confirmed she had been born two years earlier. So, in that reality she was one day shy of her 105th birthday. That’s a long life, and I would like to say it was a long life well-lived. But in all honesty, I was quite removed from her life and couldn’t say either way. 

Later, going through her papers, I was keenly aware of how little I knew my grandparents. I grew up a 10-hour drive away from that set of grandparents. We visited occasionally, maybe once a year, and I don’t remember them ever traveling to visit us. They would send us a Christmas and birthday card with a $5 check. The connection to my grandparents was fairly transactional, to say the least.

 

That was why I was surprised, that in one of the piles on her kitchen table, I discovered a note from her written to me and tucked into a card I had sent her when I was a young adult. It read something like “Thank you for the fruit and for thinking of me. Love, Nana.” It was very short, matter of fact and not very newsy. But I recognized her handwriting, and the word love was used.

 Had I received that note in the mail right after it was written, I’m pretty sure I would have been so grateful to get it and see those words.  You see, as an adult, I ordered and sent my grandparents Harry and David fruit every year for years. After my grandfather died, I continued to send fruit and other gifts to my grandmother. I did it partly out of love and partly out of respect for their position in my life as my grandparents. But I never heard back except through my mother who talked to her mother and relayed the message that they got the fruit and appreciated it. It felt like an awkward dispassionate exchange. A gift purchased by me, given to my grandparents, and acknowledged through an intermediary. 

I felt a pang when I saw the thank you note…my first thought was I had judged harshly and that my grandmother had every intention of reaching out and sending her love in that thank you note. Maybe she couldn’t find a stamp, or it took all she could to just write the letter (she was struggling with macular degeneration, I knew).  Maybe she thought she had sent the letter…like she thought she was 103, not 105. All those things could be true. 

 But let me encourage you all out there who are now grandparents: send the letter. 

It’s easy to believe that your small gestures as a grandparent are not important. But they are. You are the elder. You set the bar. You are the model of what it is to love and to pursue. I see so many grandparents who sit back and wait to be loved by their children and grandchildren. Consider being the one who takes the initiative. There is a lot to lose if you simply keep forgetting to do the little things. Please, just send the letter.

(c) Emily Morgan 2019