“The Power of Being Seen and Heard,” March 5, 2019

It happens to most of us at one time or another. We want to say something important. But no one seems to be listening.

Children need someone to talk to, someone to look into their eyes and listen to their stories, nodding and smiling in all the right places. But parents can be busy with jobs or chores or cell phones. And teachers have a classroom full of kids waving hands, begging to be heard.

Good listeners are hard to find. Not just for children, but for anyone who lives alone, and especially for those at the age of “invisibility” when people no longer seem to see you and have little interest in what you say.

That age is not a number so much as a stage of life. It’s also known as “elderly,” “senior citizen,” “blue-hair,” “retiree,” “geezer” or just plain “old.”

I occasionally get the feeling that I could stand naked on a street corner, juggling live chickens, and traffic wouldn’t stop. Not that I plan to try it.

Children set out on the road of life with so many questions and so much to learn. Meanwhile their elders are nearing the end of the journey with a lifetime of experience and so much to offer.

And that is why God invented grandparents and grandkids. We talk and listen, laugh and cry and learn from each other. It’s a match made in heaven.

Most of what I know about life came from my grandparents. My dad’s parents were farmers who taught me to appreciate a good tomato, pay attention to the weather and delight in the changing of seasons.

My mother’s parents raised 12 children and helped raise a few grandchildren, including me. He was a preacher who sang in his sermons. She was a woman who knew her own mind, loved Jesus but refused to go to church.

I was sure the four of them knew all there is to know about this life and the next. And they were happy to share it with me. I’m not nearly as smart or knowledgeable as they were. But I want to be that same kind of grandparent to my grandkids.

My husband and I share six, so far, with two more on the way. We do a lot of talking and listening. The kids hang on us like fleas on a dog. And no matter how long we stay, they never want us to leave. It’s wonderful to have someone who thinks you hang the moon.

I realize it won’t last forever. They will always love us, or so I hope. But someday they’ll have better things to do than to hang out with us. Until then, I hope to spend a lot of time together, with frequent breaks, of course, to avoid total exhaustion.

Imagine my surprise when Randy, my oldest grandchild, invited me, with his teacher’s approval, to speak to his classmates in second grade.

I often speak to aspiring writers of all ages about writing and life and such. It’s what I do. But I had never spoken to one of my grandkids’ classes.

I was a bit nervous, until Randy ran up to hug me. He and his classmates and their teacher put me entirely at ease. The kids sat on the floor at my feet while I told them how my blind brother would make me describe in detail things he couldn’t see.

“Sometimes,” I said, “he would say, ‘That’s not it, Sister, try again.’ So I kept trying.”

They listened closely, laughed in the right places and raised hands to ask great questions.
At one point, Randy stood by my chair, leaned over and put his arm around my neck.

And then — right there in front of his teacher and his classmates and God and all His angels — he rested his head on my shoulder, the way he does when we’re together, just the two of us. And he kept it there while I talked.

I wish you could’ve seen him.

There are moments in life that change forever how we see ourselves and the world. That moment, filled with the shining faces of children and the love of a little boy, did that for me.

I’ll never feel invisible again.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Nina Z says:

    My five grandkids are such a joy! I can’t describe our relationship any better than you did in this story! So glad I found your column again!

  2. Sally Brown says:

    I was incredibly close to my Mimi and Papa. Now, I am blessed to be Mimi…my favorite role in life! My #1 will go to college next year. I adore the amazing young woman she has become, but I also keep that little girl that kept those little arms wrapped around my neck tucked tightly in my heart!

  3. Kate Sciacca says:

    You surely are blessed. And two more on the way 😀. I’m in CA awaiting our 12th, who was supposed to arrive last Saturday but I think she’s waiting til tomorrow…. so she can share her birthday with her grandma 😉

    Thanks for reminding me to listen to the grandkids… had to put down your column to hear about the grandboy’s fishing story 😀 – hmmmm…. for the tenth time 😉

  4. Nona Williamson says:

    What a wonderful story and I have tears also. This is from the heart. We have 4 grandchildren, ages 25 to 12. But I still spend as much time with each one individually as possible. Our oldest is in Medical School and I love to get him to open up and speak from his heart. Each one has so much to share and I love spending time with each. Thank you for this wonderful story and it hit my heart with a thud.

  5. Betty McNall says:

    OH my that story tugs at ones

  6. Sally Merrill says:

    Your stories always touch me but this one really touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes! We only have 2 grandchildren and our only child, our daughter, has told us not to look for any more down the road! Our grandson is 10 and granddaughter is 4 and I love talking to them and hearing their stories (although sometimes the 10 year old has to interpret for me with the 4 year old!) and try to always take time to listen. I can just see you smiling and talking with your grandson’s head on your shoulder because I know how I feel when my grandson gives me a big hug when I get to come to his school for events or those random hugs out in public! Thank you for always sharing your heart!

  7. Maria Penner says:

    Grandparents are a child’s best friend…..You are so correct….we never feel invisible around
    them because their love is unconditional and free…Even as they age (our oldest is 14) they write the sweetest emails or text messages. That was a most precious moment for you in Randy’s class, and how comfortable he must be to rest his head on your shoulder…in front of everyone…that is LOVE!!!!
    I so enjoy these columns and share with all my friends who appreciate real life writing!!!
    hugs, Maria

  8. Vanessa LeClear says:

    What a beautiful reminder of how the little things (and sometimes little people) can make all the difference in our lives. Grandchildren are especially good at making us feel loved and “seen”, at least for a few years. (Except when we’re raising them—sometimes I wish I could find a really good hiding place!) And I know all too well about the Cloak of Invisibility; I just thought I was the only person of a “certain age” who had been gifted with this magic covering!

  9. Patricia Shaffer says:

    Oh Sharon…now I have tears! I feel EXACTLY like you describe this. At least with some of my grandchildren! They make me feel important and loved! Thank you for all of your articles! You are so my favorite!

  10. Sharon Randall Wiggins says:

    I love it! I have a boy like that in my life too. I love him to the moon and back.

  11. Cathy says:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!! It is how I feel about my own grandchildren. Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. Jeannette Buck says:

    Well, you have me in tears again! So true — every word! Thank you!

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