Faith & Values
Tomorrow is National Grandparents Day — a time to be mindful that while grandparents nowadays may live a bit differently from our parents’ generation, their experience, wisdom and knowledge can add value to our lives.
Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade was a West Virginia mother who wanted grandchildren to tap into the wisdom and heritage of their grandparents, so in 1978 she successfully campaigned for legislation creating a special day just for grandparents.
I am sure we can all remember special moments with our grandparents — the way being in Grandma’s kitchen during the holidays and hearing Grandpa’s stories of relatives made us all feel connected.
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The first time I remember meeting my grandparents, I was 5 years old. My parents and I traveled by train from Seattle across the upper Midwest to their home in Indiana; the scenery along the way helping me appreciate our country’s farmland.
Once we arrived at their farm, Grandma hugged me, saying, “We’re going to have fun together.” Since my grandfather worked in the city for a corporation, my days were filled with her.
The farm was amazing, with a gigantic barn with cows and other livestock. Grandma taught me her compassionate way of caring for all the animals, telling me that “they were a gift from God and must be treated humanely.”
Every morning we milked the cows before sunrise, and not a drop of the pure, fresh milk was to be wasted. We separated it for drinking and cream, then churned butter by hand.
My grandparents’ greatest possession was their memories. The stories they told of the Great Depression and of world wars were oral, not digital, and always came with the reminder that “we must appreciate God’s countless blessings.”
Always eager to be with me, they made me feel that I was the most important person to them. It was their love and patience that highlighted my first visit — an experience that has affected my life to this day.
I think grandparents often see grandchildren as a second chance at parenting, coming at a time when their wisdom and experience allow them to view grandchildren through a lens of immeasurable affection.
In Islam, grandparents are a major part of Muslim families. Seen as the head of the household, they’re encouraged to live with the rest of the family so they can be loved and share in their grandchildren’s lives.
These human connections are a form of worship in Islam, in which kindness to the elderly is a way of life, and a sign of faith and respect to God.
The tradition of Prophet Muhammad was to first start with the elderly when serving food and drink, and always to give them the best seats in a gathering. I was raised this way, too.
By treating grandparents with dignity and respect, we show our own children how our elderly should be treated. Their presence helps connect us to our religious and cultural traditions — to our roots.
My wife and I recently became grandparents to an adorable granddaughter, and the rewards are priceless. The relationship between a loving grandparent and a cherished grandchild is beyond words.
Our urban home life includes an organically fed rabbit, chickens and dwarf goats, providing a way for me to instill in my granddaughter that same gentle love for God’s creations that my grandmother instilled in me.
While today’s grandparents may be a bit busier than grandparents who came before them, their wisdom, experience and morality can still pay dividends for each of us and our loved ones.
Let them know how much you love and appreciate them.
Aziz Junejo is host of “Focus on Islam,” a weekly cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on Islam. Readers may send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org