Talk with the older people in your family!
Don’t buy into the notion that they’re old and have nothing to say or can’t understand you because “their day” was oh so long ago and didn’t have social media and smart phones, instant everything and fast food garbage. Talk with them, as often as you can. Don’t avoid them because they’re “miserable”, always making a fuss or make weird noises with their dentures. Talk with them about what they like, about their youth and life experiences, and you’ll find that you’re more like them than you ever thought possible.
Do it because they are your direct connection with the past, with worlds that no longer exist. Talk with them because they are closer to the ancestral realm and may be receiving inner-sights that will help you as you continue this journey called life.
If you have a great grandparent still alive, you’re blessed! Many never meet theirs. If you have a grandparent still alive, give thanks! Don’t let them return to the ancestral realm without having the honour of you sitting at their feet listening to their stories. In my ignorance, I used to think that my lone surviving grandparent didn’t have any stories worth sharing because she never spoke of her past. That was until we started what would become our little ritual… Sunday afternoon drives around the island.
Twice a month, sometimes more, always on a Sunday, I’d pick her up and, with lil sis in tow, we’d set off for a couple of hours just driving and talking. Between granny and little sis the general direction would be chosen (east, west, south or north) and then I’d take it from there… and within 15 minutes granny’s stories would start flowing. I’ve learned more about our family history during these drives than in all my 30-odd years prior. Relatives who I never knew existed, I now have names for and know their experiences. And I see a totally different side to my grandmother too. She’s more real to me now, not just some older, authority figure who was a strict disciplinarian when I was growing up. I’m smiling now as I remember how her face lit up and she shouted “hey, that’s my mommy!” when I showed her a picture of her mother that my brother scanned and emailed to me. She hadn’t seen that picture in decades and when she saw it the little girl in her came out at the sight of “her mommy”.
Granny thinks I take her on these drives for her sake, to get her out of the house and give her a change of scenery, but, truth be told, I love these outings and look forward to them with even more enthusiasm than she does. A granny-drive day is a gift, an opportunity to create memories with her… memories that, when she has returned to the ancestral realm (assuming she goes before I do), I’ll recall when I think of her, smile and say “mo juba” (I honour you) granny.