Today is a special day for all the grandpas and grandmas in our lives.
This Grandparents Day let's honor our grandmas and grandpas and remember the ones who have passed on.
To many families, grandparents play a crucial and supportive role in helping to look after the young children while their parents are out working, but the gift of their presence in our lives is what counts most.
Grandparents fill the role as the wise ones in the family who share to the younger generation stories of a time when moral values were stronger, hard work was emphasized, and getting a higher education was more important than anything else after high school. These are the stories that have been told by grandma or grandpa as younger members of the extended family gathered around without distractions from TV shows, online videos or gaming consoles.
Many of our older grandparents lived through wartime, economic depressions and losses of family and friends, and the stories they share should help remind us to persevere no matter how tough life may be.
In The Guam Daily Post, we asked some of our colleagues how their grandparents influenced their lives and what's special about them.
"My grandmother had a way of making every person she met feel special. I’ve always admired the way she cared for people and gave them her full attention. Whether it was the cleaning lady, the cook in my grandpa’s restaurant, the person on the street, or the struggling, single mother, everyone was important to my grandma," says one colleague. "She was always well dressed and well put-together."
"One of my last memories of her is lying in her lap while she scratched my back and my head and helped me sleep on her couch. My grandma’s house was a safe place. She had a wooden rocking chair where she would knit and read the Bible. As she got older, that chair was a place for her cat naps. Grandma suffered from arthritis but you’d never know it. She held back the pain and would never complain. Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever heard my grandmother complain. She just went with things and trusted God in everything," this colleague shared.
"In my family, we called my grandmother 'Chedil' (pronunciation starts with a glottal stop denoted by 'ch' followed by two syllables – e-thil). Chedil Dirrachur was, in no uncertain terms, bad ass. She was strong, a great dancer and funny as all get out. She spoke to us and all of her family in Palauan but wrote in Japanese. I remember watching her write to her sisters or just writing the list of items she needed to purchase at the store; and I would use my mom’s Japanese dictionary to try to identify the kana and kanji on the paper. I remember thinking how smart she was to remember all the different strokes needed for each character and hoping that one day I’d be as cool as her," one colleague wrote.
Another talked about her grandma surviving the Japanese brutality in World War II and raising her family in a time of fear and poverty. Yet in the midst of the difficulty, this wartime survivor grandma kept her grace and composure, not showing a tear in front of the younger children in the family.
A friend of our newsroom has a grandpa who spoke five languages – CHamoru, Filipino and Japanese, among others – representing the changes in Guam's community over three quarters of a century.
Our grandmas and grandpas love to write letters and send cards. They're great storytellers – marveling us with experiences that were sprinkled with lessons.
Grandparents remind us of a time when interactions were more personal. Three to four generations of family members stuck together and kept in touch even if geographically apart.
Our grandparents left cussing out of the conversation. Conversations were courteous and insightful.
Our grandparents were or are teachers of life, and on how to be patient and to endure.
We call them Nanan Biha for grandma and Tatan Bihu for grandfather in CHamoru. We call them Lolo or Lola in Filipino. We call them Halabeoji for grandpa in Korean on dad’s side and Oehalmeoni for grandma on mom’s side.
No matter how we call them, we cherish their gift of wisdom and their positive influence in our lives.
Thank you, grandma and grandpa.