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My grandmother was originally from Sweden and spoke only Swedish until she was twelve years old. Her family came to the United States when she was a ten year old child. She danced the Mexican hat dance at parties and was an active member of the Moose Lodge for years. She lived until the day after she turned 91 and was active until the very last years of her life. She was sweet, thrifty, and loving.

Unfortunately that is all I really know about her. Even though she lived with us for a while when I was young, I never took the time to talk to her about much of anything. Later I became so involved in my own life I only acknowledged her with a card or the occasional mundane conversation while attending a family function.

Have your grandparents show you family photographs, telling you who each person is and maybe a little about them. Maybe they had to do laundry by hand or perhaps they worked in a mine. Maybe they were in a war somewhere or even loved to disco! Who knows what interesting things they may have done? My husband loves a good storm and I have grown to appreciate them too, all due to the interest his grandmother sparked in him. She told him to sit on the steps and watch the clouds because something was brewing. Her love of storms was passed on to him. It's a small thing, but he will always remember it.

One of my best friends once told me that the best thing she ever did was to spend time with her grandmother before she died. They were lucky because they knew what was coming and could set aside the time to be together. She learned more in that short time by just asking questions, but most of all by simply listening. It is one of her best memories. It makes her smile and brings her joy whenever she speaks of it. I have been given a second chance through my husband's family. I have turned to my husband's grandmother and asked her questions. I heard stories and through them got to know both my mother-in-law and my husband better. It took me a little while to get through to her; she just couldn't understand why anyone would want to know some of her old stories. Once we got going though, I was thrilled. The stories she told were fascinating. We laughed and I was often amazed at what came out of her mouth, as were some of the family members occasionally listening in. We can learn a lot of things from the past that help us in the here and now.

I'm glad I took the time with her before she was gone, and it taught me a good lesson. It's never too late to get to know grandparents, and grandparents can take the first step too. They just might find a captive audience. If not your own grandparents, then at least your in-laws. At the very least, teach this lesson to your children that they may experience what you never had the chance to. It is time well spent and the memories and lessons learned will last a lifetime. What I already knew of her and the fact that I loved her might be enough for some people, but oh how much I missed. She died with out my knowing very much information, so much wisdom that I will never get a chance to tap into. After her death, (as is usually the case) I kicked myself for never letting her know how much I cared about her, how interested I was in her life and my family history. I want to ask her questions--questions that only she could honestly answer. I will forever wonder what mysteries her life held that could have helped me in mine. What could she have taught me about life? What trials had she been through?

We know we should honor our mother and father; it is the fifth commandment. What about grandparents? Don't they deserve the same honor? By extension isn't this fulfilling the fifth commandment? One way we can honor our parents is by showing more love, care and interest for their parents. Our grandparents hold a treasure of information. They can tell us our histories, family as well as medical and how to make that favorite dish we've always adored. They hold within them true stories that can curl our toes or roll us on the floor with laughter. The information they hold about our own parents can help us to better understand them. Most of all they have a special love for us that no one else has.

So often we overlook those people closest to us, thinking that they will always be there. Some of us miss important moments because we just aren't looking at our grandparents as anyone special. I know that I, for so many different reasons, did not reach out and now I regret it. I must admit I have envied those who had or have that special relationship with their grandparents. They took the time. They make the connection. While grandparents play a part in reaching out too, I think often times they just don't find an open door. They may not believe we would be interested or feel that there is nothing outstanding in their life, but this is not the case. They hold memories of times, events, and family histories.

Learn from the mistakes I made. Reach out to your grandparents before it is too late. Make a connection; be there for them. Ask questions for you may be thrilled to find out that they are more than willing to share and open up to you. Glean their wisdom. Learn from them; they have been through more then you can imagine and seen the world change in ways we never will. Chances are they know where you are coming from even if you don't. Most of all love them; they deserve it. Remember they have made mistakes just as you have and will. Sometimes you have to look beyond the image you have built of them to find the real person you never knew.

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