Sunday, September 13, 2009

Matriarchs, Patriarchs, And The Grandest Parents Of All...

(NOTE: This post was written for Dad-O-Matic and will also appear there)

From everything I have seen and heard, being a grandparent is a special thrill. I am not there yet myself, but as my own kids grow into adulthood I know that eventually "Grandparent" will be another line item on my life resume. While I cannot address what it is to be a Grandparent, I can address what it is to have Grandparents and how much fun it has been to provide the necessary offspring to enable my own parents to become Grandparents. By the way, if you haven't heard, today is National Grandparents Day!

Grandma and Papa, Opa and Oma

I always enjoy hearing the interesting names people have for their Grandparents. There seems to be many more permutations of the names and nicknames for our parent's parents than there are for good old "Mom and Dad." In my case I had the more traditional "Grandma and Papa" on my mother's side, and, thanks to their very prevalent German culture, "Oma and Opa" on my Father's side. In the case of my own kids, they simply have used "Grandma and Grandpa Sass" vs. "Grandma and Grandpa Genco" to distinguish between their own Grandparents. What names do you and your kids use?

All In The Family...

I was very fortunate in that I grew up in Queens, NY in an apartment that was three blocks away from both sets of my Grandparents (one in each direction). As soon as I was old enough I could easily walk or ride my bike over for an after school visit, and Oma and Opa lived literally next door to my Junior High School and the primary neighborhood playground, providing an easy escape for a snack or to clean up a scraped knee. One of my true regrets of my own adventures in parenting is that my kids have not had the experience of growing up in such close proximity and with such constant interaction with their Grandparents.

Influence of the Ages...

Perhaps because of their physical closeness, my Grandparents were a tremendous influence on me, and while I of course have been shaped in many ways by my Mom and Dad, I can also very clearly see the impact of my grandparents in myself, and I fondly and proudly acknowledge the wisdom and examples they set for me throughout my childhood. While they have been gone for a long time now, I still think of them a lot, and I find myself referring to them often in the life stories that have become a regular part of my repetoire, sharing memories of my Grandparents and their lessons as often as I can, especially with my kids, who did not know them all, and were very young when they did.

Thanks For The Memories... And Then Some...

I could write many separate stories about each of my Grandparents (and perhaps sometime I will) as each was a true individual, and very special in their own way. Papa, the former soldier whose strong physical presence always made me think of Popeye... Opa, who was never in great health, yet worked hard and smart to rise within the ranks of a single employer over more than 40 years (unimaginable in today's world) and who, despite his seemingly quiet nature, was an ingenious prankster... Grandma, who lovingly never lost her aura of being a "Southern Belle" and a truly sweet person... Oma, who lost so much to the Holocaust and yet her strength and determination clearly positioned her as the Sass Family Matriarch... I loved them all very much, still do, and salute them here on National Grandparents Day.

Life Is Grand(parents)!

I hope you too will take a moment today to honor your Grandparents, and your kid's Grandparents, and yourself if you are a Grandparent. Family heritage is a one of our greatest treasures, and like many treasures we often leave it buried. I know I want to do more to explore my own, and share it with my kids, and remembering my Grandparents is a great start. In the next few days I am planning to visit with my parents and interview them about our family history on video as part of the Sony DigiDads Project. This is something I have often thought about doing but never got around to it, so I am grateful to Dad-O-Matic and Sony for the inspiration.

What does Grandparents Day mean to you?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 17). He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast. You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Dad-O-Matic and Social Networking Rehab.

Photo Credit: © vospalej -

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