Joy, hope — and adding a few ‘grandparents’

Shelby Boatman - Guest columnist

I’ve always had a habit of befriending individuals from an older era. I seemed to always identify with adults or even grandparents as I was growing up. I never felt like I “fit in” with individuals my own age.

Perhaps an “old soul” outlook on life is responsible?

Recently, a newfound friend of mine passed away. She was older and somewhat like a grandmother to me, even though I hadn’t known her long. We used to exchange colorful cards in the mail, as she was in quarantine at a nursing home.

I would print photos of my adventures to include in the cards so she might feel as if she was traveling with me. She and I quickly built a friendship which I now truly miss.

Recently additional friends of mine in the “65 or older” category have suffered from deteriorating health or decline. We might say these issues simply come with age, but the phrase does not lessen the blows you experience as the aging process continues.

Undoubtedly, when you truly care about someone, the pain of loss is the ultimate price you pay for love.

I have seen grandparents depart Earth much sooner than I would have chosen, and have had to reconcile that they will not be physically here for those important life moments. At age 26, I have less than a handful of grandparents left. I treasure those still with me and their presence in my life.

To help bridge this void, I have developed close friendships with older community members. To be “adopted” by a sweet and kind-hearted older woman or gentlemen provides you a feeling like none other.

While it obviously cannot replace the love you have for your relatives or the hole they may have left, it seems to help soften the pain slightly.

We all know that grandparents provide endless love. They are kind and judgeless.

With a grandparent you gain guidance and wisdom from years past. You experience life through them. Grandma’s kitchen has always been full of memories — with baking powder, flour, and all the necessary ingredients for happiness.

Grandpa’s favorite fishing spot once contained bass or catfish, but remains full of love as the grandkids remember the fond memories of fishing.

Grandparents are the true good in the world. They are where you run to when mom and dad say no … where you enjoy all the candy you can consume … the individuals who tend to love you unconditionally.

A grandparent’s hug is like no other. Their arms wrap around you to instill protection and peace in your world. Their voices exude guidance and wisdom.

For those who may not have the magic of grandparents readily available for whatever reasons, I encourage you to make friends with our older generations. Older friends in our community can become part of your adopted family if you invite them.

Due to COVID-19, many of our order community members cannot leave their homes or retirement facilities. Send them a letter, note, card or even flowers. Encourage them, as they once encouraged their grandchildren.

Spread hope and joy in this season of a pandemic.

Lets face it — you can never have too many grandparents!

Shelby Boatman is a Wilmington native and Director of the Clinton County History Center.

Shelby Boatman

Guest columnist