This I Believe is a regular series on NPR's All Things Considered and Weekend Edition Sunday. It's a series of essays in which people write about the chief values and beliefs that guide their lives. The concept inspired an English class writing project this past semester at UNC Charlotte. The class was called Accelerated Writing and Rhetoric. Student Katelin Longbrake submitted this essay, titled Nobody's Grandchild. One of those old ladies who my generation classifies as "cute" sat down next to me in church on Sunday. As the church began to fill, she scooted closer to me to allow room for others in the pew. I sat in the midst of my prayers, but I could not help but to notice the familiar smell of her perfume, finding its way, first to my nose, then to my memory box. She wore the same sweet and light scent as my grandma wore throughout the years before she passed away. I could not help but let one or two tears flow down my cheek as I remembered little memories of all of my grandparents who have passed away. As her perfume filled my senses, I stumbled upon an odd fact that I had never considered before. When the only grandparent I have left, my grandma, passes away, I will no longer be anyone's grandkid. I believe that to no longer be anyone's grandchild is the greatest loss with the fewest tears. Of course, every child weeps for the loss of their grandpas and grandmas, but there is always a knowing in the back of our minds that old people are going to pass away. However, the realization that all of my grandparents will be gone someday seems to be a whole other loss in itself. I will no longer be that sheep on grandma's sweatshirt titled "Grandma's flock" surrounded by all my cousins. I will never again be someone's gemstone stick figure on my grandma's "Brat necklace." I will never again be my grandpa's bragging rights at the local gas station coffee shop. I will even miss the extra scoop of mashed potatoes that I refused, but got served onto my plate anyway. The younger generations are sometimes said to not understand the older generations. Maybe it is the loud music, baggy jeans, or new slang that separates us. But both generations experience the feelings of being misunderstood, not listened to, and overlooked. My grandma once leaned over to me at the dinner table and said, "They talk about me like I'm not sitting right here." I just smiled back at her completely understanding how she felt. To understand all generations is to embrace all of God's life. As children we have the ability to live in the present, dream of the future, and connect to the past through our grandparents. To no longer have that connection is a great loss that I believe is often overlooked. As we grow up, old people just become that hassle in grocery store line and that smell you cannot escape when entering the nursing home, and soon we are the old people ourselves. But, for now, we see them as "cute" because we know and appreciate the fact that they are doing the ever so important job of being some child's grandparent. I believe that by forever appreciating and remembering my lost grandparents in this light, I will never be no one's grandchild.
This I Believe essay: 'Nobody's Grandchild'
By Katelin Longbrake • Dec 30, 2008