Erin Jamieson

Generation wisdom

By  Erin Jamieson, Youth Speak News
  • September 12, 2014

Grandparents are an undervalued resource 

On Sept. 28 Pope Francis will meet with the elderly in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate their long lives as a gift, not a burden. What a remarkable idea in our world that seems to value youth and physical ability over age and the wisdom that accompanies it. I have been given a great gift by the life and example of my grandparents.

I am blessed to still have three of my grandparents alive and well, and even more blessed to have strong memories of a grandfather who passed away when I was 11. Much has been passed down to me in the form of heirlooms and stories of the past, and all of these are treasures that I value greatly. But the announcement that the Pope will honour the elderly has me looking for the less tangible gifts. In 2013, the Pope commented, “The wisdom our grandparents have is something we must welcome as an inheri-tance.” Here is a portion of the rich inheritance I have received.

You are never too old to be in love.

In a society of high divorce rates and the concept of “one true love” reserved for fairy tales, it is often a struggle to feel realistic in a quest for meaningful, life-long partnership. I find hope again when I look at the love my grand-parents still share after 57 years of marriage. Grandma makes grandpa’s coffee every morning and serves it with such love. Grandpa makes afternoon tea and presents it with such care. He still kisses her after every meal and says how lucky he is to have found her. It is in these quiet moments that I feel reassured of the pos-sibility of a supportive, life-long partnership.

You are never too old to try new things.

I have two grandmas who amaze me on their computers. One is always learning new features of Excel to improve her accounting and the other is learning to send pictures to her grandchildren on her MacBook. My grandpa surprised me with his stylish new fedora so he can look sharp for his afternoon walk. My grandparents have shown me that while old dogs may not learn new tricks quickly, it’s no excuse to stop trying.

Strength of spirit does not diminish with age.

I see this in the many ways in which my grandparents face the tougher side of life. I see this in my widowed grandmother who still misses her husband but has continued to live her life fully — traveling, working in the church and the community, enjoying the theatre, caring for her family.

I see in each of these remarkable people strength, love, curiosity, fun and faith. They make me laugh, they help me learn and they pray for me always. My life is so much richer because they are a part of it. Our society is so much richer for their gifts and the gifts older members of society possess. True treasures don’t lose their value over time. Seventy and 80-year-old treasures are to be valued.

Pope Francis says that grand-parents are a treasure, and I know that God continues to give me great gifts in my relationship with my grandparents: the gifts of love, wisdom and experience.

(Jamieson, 19, is a second-year Knowledge and Integration student at the University of Waterloo, Ont.) 

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