Seniors living in assistant living villages or nursing homes may receive a visit from their grandchildren or loved ones on this day.
Clevelanders Machelle and Pat McCulley, married for 27 years, are among a younger generation of grandparents who can offer a more youthful approach to bonding with their granddaughter, Preslie, who is 2 1/2 years old.
“I am amazed at how wrapped up I am with Preslie,” Pat admits. “I didn’t have a grandfather growing up. Both of my grandparents passed away before I was born. So I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t have that role model before me. I just wanted to impart something to her and love on her. It’s kind of like a Divine do-over. You realize what’s important and what’s not important by this age. It’s that quality time that you get to spend with them.”
“It’s a chance to impart heritage to our children,” Machelle added. “I’m big about imparting a heritage and leaving a legacy to our children and grandchildren. You see it with your children, but even more so with your grandchildren — those last times you’ll have a chance to impart what your beliefs are, what your faith is and your passions. We want to make sure that we leave a Godly heritage and legacy for them.”
Pat, 49, said, “Everyone kept saying how much grandchildren are going to change your life. Me and my daughter have a great relationship — my son, too. I just couldn’t imagine loving another child like I do my own children. They have a special place in your heart,” he said.
“When people would tell us that we wouldn’t believe it,” Machelle added. “They would say, ‘You’re going to love them as much as you do your babies.’ I was like, ‘I can’t imagine that.’ But as soon as my daughter got pregnant I fell so in love with Preslie.”
The couple spend quite a bit of time with their granddaughter, playing an integral part in her life. Experts say grandparents can be great sources for parenting tips and affordable childcare to their grandchildren’s parents as well as provide a sense of emotional closeness and social support. Grandparents also provide children with a sense of safety and protection as well as a link to their cultural heritage and family history, creating a special bond.
“I think that’s very important,” Machelle said. “I think our goal as grandparents should be to have as much love for our children and grandchildren, and to take as good care of ourselves so we can have even more time with them. That’s a huge platform I stand on for women — to take care of themselves so they will look good and feel good. That way they will have more energy and have more time to invest back into their heritage”
Regarding a National Grandparents Day, Machelle and Pat says they support it wholeheartedly.
“I think it’s wonderful! I definitely think we should honor those who are so much a part of our lives,” Machelle said.
Pat, who pastors the River Worship Center, added, “There’s a lot of wisdom in those who went before us. We can learn from their mistakes and their successes. Then you won’t have to figure some things out for yourself. The generation that’s gone before us — we tend to overlook them and not glean from their wisdom and experience. But the older we get, it seems the smarter our parents get. I think it’s a good thing to celebrate.”
Still, Machelle, 44, a hair designer and makeup artist at Headquarters Beauty Salon in Cleveland, admits “Our granddaughter calls me ‘Lollie’ and she calls Pat, ‘Poppie.’ We don’t want to be called Grandma or Grandpa. We’re too young for that.”
Pat and Machelle announced they will be having another grandbaby in April 2014, and are very excited about having their second grandchild. The couple has two children, Meaghan, 25, and Shiloah, 18.
Jerry and Paula Noble are proud grandparents who find their relationship with their grandchildren to be rewarding as well as spiritually fulfilling.
“I love my grandchildren and thank God for them every single day,” Paula said. “My grandchildren are so fun to be with. I am so thankful for the joy they bring to our family. From the time they started walking to kindergarten to their first home run and to their first time singing in church — they know without a doubt I will be there rooting them on and supporting them. Being Seth, Christian and Victoria’s Nana is the most rewarding thing of my life.”
Jerry agreed, adding, “Being a grandparent is an enjoyable privilege. It gives me the opportunity to pour into my grandchildren and shape their lives — hopefully for the good. Knowing my grandchildren will be valuable citizens and make positive contributions to society brings me gladness.
“Knowing they will serve the Lord and be valuable to the Kingdom of God delights me and compares to nothing. I enjoy teaching them new things and I also enjoy learning things from them. If it were not for them, I would still be trying to learn how to operate an iPhone. Since each of them were born, I have told them to ‘Never give up,’ and to ‘DOG it’, which stands for “Depend On God.”
The incentive for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, W.Va. Throughout the 1970s she championed the cause of lonely elderly residents in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap into the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide.
During the same time, Michael Goldgar, after visiting his aunt in an Atlanta nursing home, spent some $11,000 of his own money in lobbying efforts to have a national Grandparents Day officially recognized, he made 17 trips to Washington, D.C, over a seven-year span to meet with legislators.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a federal proclamation declaring that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day. McQuade reportedly received a phone call from the White House to advise her of this event.
According to the United States Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey, the number of grandparents whose grandchildren under age 18 were living with them in 2011 was 7 million. The number of grandparents responsible for the basic needs of one or more grandchildren under age 18 living with them in 2011 was 2.7 million. Of these caregivers, 1.7 million were grandmothers and 1 million were grandfathers.
The number of grandparents in the labor force responsible for their own grandchildren under age 18 was 1.7 million. Among them, 338,000 were 60 years or older. The number of grandparents who had a disability and were responsible for their grandchildren was 657,000. In 2012, the number of children living with both grandmother and grandfather in 2012 was 2.7 million.
The official song of National Grandparents Day is “A Song for Grandma And Grandpa” by Johnny Prill. The official flower for the day is the “forget-me-not” flower.
About four million greeting cards are sent within the United States each year on National Grandparents Day.