The impetus for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. President Jimmy Carter, in 1978, proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day. This year Grandparents day falls on Sunday September 8th. Being the youngest of six, and an ‘oops baby at that,’ I did not have the opportunity to meet 3 of my 4 grandparents, yet I was able to learn about them through stories from my parents and siblings. It is a part of my heritage that I have always wondered about and sadly missed.
While I am the F.U. a.k.a. Favorite Uncle (that line always gets a laugh) to 26 nieces and nephews, I have been able to vicariously find a way learn about grandparents, and what is means to be a grandparent, through a new group which was started in Fort Lauderdale, FL., The LGBT Grandparents group. The LGBT Grandparents group is one born of a partnership between Sun Serve, Women in Network, SAGE, Women with Pride and The Pride Center. It serves as a gathering place for LGBT grandparents to share stories, network and find support in a relaxed, non-structured setting. On of the great joys I have experience since I have been on staff at Sun Serve Social Services has been to be apart of the planning committee for LGBT Grandparents group which started in early 2013.
Attending the gatherings has been a wonderful experience because I get to listen to so many beautiful and heart wrenching stories about families, about relationships, about love, about joy, and about sorrow. As I sit and listen attentively to these stories, I can relate the stories that my siblings tell through their experience with their kids and grandkids. You see, no matter what side of the fence you are on, relationships are human; their complicated, their stressful, and they are beautiful in their own right. But the one thing that I have learned while participating in this group is that grandchildren are often the glue that keeps families together, while keeping hope alive. It reminds me of that line…”If I had known grandchildren would be so much fun, I would have had them first!”
Sure, LGBT grandparents face different struggles as it relates to their relationship with their kids, with their (ex) spouses, especially when it comes to the revelation of coming out of the closet later in life. But don’t all couples face different and difficult issues in a relationship…It’s about being human! Being a part of the LGBT grandparents has proven to be remarkable because I get to watch in person, the similarity between people and their relationships. There are no orientation boundaries. The love that each member has for their grandchildren is truly remarkable. When people have to opportunity to share their story with others, it immediately provides a sense of security and an understanding that ‘I’m not alone!‘ Sharing photos of grandchildren is a universal practice!
While societal norms are changing, we have to remember that today’s LGBT seniors grew up, and worked out of a system in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s etc., that was not as accepting as it is today. Have a group like our LGBT Grandparents group, allows people to come together, to in a sense, come out of the closet again to find comfort, to find joy, to find similarity in a world that has not always been accepting to them. On this Grandparents day, reach out to your grandparents and tell them that you love them. And if your Grandparents happen to be Gay or Lesbian, give them an extra hug and thank them for being brave. It’s never too late to reach out and be a part of someone’s life!
Chris MacLellan is the Coordinator of Senior Services at Sun Serve Social Services and the host of ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio
- National Grandparents Day is this Sunday (Video) (examiner.com)
- Grandparent’s Day Ideas (potterybarnkids.com)
- 10 ways to show your love on Grandparents Day (examiner.com)
- Free Grandparents Day Card Printables (forthemommas.com)
- Celebrate Grandparents Day on Sunday, September 8th (allensflowermarketreseda.com)
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