The feast of the 'Annunciation' today commemorates the visit of the archangel Gabriel to Mary, during which he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Here Maureen Monaghan reflects on the joy of hearing that she was to be a grandparent and explains why she thinks it is a role that will remain significant for the times:
The image above by the the seventeenth century artist, Elisabetta Sirani, depicts a scene of family joy and thanksgiving. Mary and Joseph, mother and father of the baby Jesus, are shown alongside Anna and Joachim, his maternal grandparents. The hands of Anna are tenderly holding the child upright, protective and close, aware of the significance of the life of this small and blessed figure.
Most grandparents adore their grandchildren. My husband and I did so from the moment that they were born. We were so delighted on hearing the news that they were safely delivered into this world all those years ago! These vital family ties, across generations, have become more apparent to us during the recent coronavirus pandemic, as families have sought to keep in touch via all forms of technology during these difficult months.
We were lucky, we had retired and we were able to see them whenever we wanted to. We were in our middle 60’s at the time. Today, many grandparents seem to be much younger and if they are still working it can be difficult. For a number of reasons - possibly ill-health, work arrangements or general circumstances - they might not be able to spend the time with them that they would like to, or they could of course be living at some distance away.
The joy and the pleasure you can receive from grandchildren can be so rewarding and we feel that the influence we can have on them is also something very special. It is not to be understated. We had so much fun and tears sometimes, and today we have two teenage granddaughters that we love and cherish and of course we have lots of memories that we talk about.
As lockdown restrictions ease perhaps there will be the opportunity again for more direct contact between grandparent and grandchild. By being more involved grandparents can only bring about better and stronger relationships, a model for discovery and contentment. They could offer an important role in re-establishing social interactions and in the wider educational and personal development of the child who has lost out on friendships and connections throughout this pandemic period. It was my 'Nin' who still stands out for me now in those post war years, with her apron and her home cooking, her kindness and true affection.
For some it can be a very short time that you have with grandchildren, but however long or short it will leave memories for them and also memories for you. So, if you can try to spend as much time with them and talk and laugh and have fun, you will be surprised how much you will enjoy it and will want to do it all the more!
We had two children whom we both loved and enjoyed, but having grandchildren you are so much more relaxed and ready to fully enjoy the more modern things that come with being a grandparent. Grandchildren are 'a gift' and the good news of a child to be born can still have the most positive repercussions across family generations!!