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The Grace and Grief of Grandparenting

Tuesday, 27 July 2021  | Michaella Curtis-Morris

Grace by definition is smoothness and elegance of movement, but it is also a form of good will. Many grandparents no longer have a smoothness of movement (although very often the elegance remains), but their capacity to show good will to others has increased immensely. Perhaps this comes from years of parenting or maybe it’s just from reaching a point in their life where they realise that it is always worth being gracious.

Grief is associated with things that are far more negative. For some, grief can mean the loss of a loved one. For others, grief can mean a feeling of annoyance, especially if the troublesome grandchildren are coming to stay and destroy the antique chairs by the fireplace. Quite often the annoying part of grief is what is experienced. It is when a grandparent shows grace and patience despite this grief that they can most impact the lives of their grandchildren.

I am always amazed at the patience my grandparents possess. There was almost certainly a time when my sister and I were the grandchildren causing grief (in the form of trouble) to our grandparents and their cat. I’m sure their dog also experienced some of that annoyance but was too calm to make a fuss about it. On one particular day (I think I was about five at the time), I had made it my mission to chase down the cat and pet it. This cat was notoriously difficult to pat even though it had become a slow runner due to arthritis. This did not bother me. I went up to it and patted it. Doing what cats do when threatened, it scratched me.

My Mere cleaned the wound and put a band-aid on it which helped. It was an important lesson about what not to do around cats but it was also a time when my Mere helped me. This grace that she showed, despite most likely being extremely frustrated with my decision to catch the cat, displays the care that is such a wonderful part of my grandparents.

My grandparents are from France. As with most grandparents, they had their preferences for a ‘grandparent name’, but sadly, as a newly speaking baby (who only spoke English), I could not pronounce what they had chosen. So instead of the French words for grandma and grandpa, they became Mere and Bonpapa. I have been told many times about how they disliked the names at the start (Mere just means mother and Bonpapa means good father), but they now seem to quite like them. Back in France, however, the rest of my family, upon hearing the new names that were given to my grandparents, were shocked that they had accepted them. This is another example of grace that has been shown by my grandparents.

Grace has been shown many times by my grandparents. As grandchildren we seem to be the ones that cause them grief. It is the grace that is shown in the face of this annoyance that makes grandparents so special.


Michaella Curtis-Morris is a Year 11 student at Bayside Christian College at Langwarrin South in Victoria.

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