Family and Going Home

Starting tonight we get our grandsons for the weekend. I’m reminded how precious family is, especially this time of the year. My husband and I love having them spend time with us. They’re growing up fast (like the old song, “Turn Around”) and it won’t be long when they’ll have places to go and things to do with their friends.

Yes, we get caught up in the frenzy of job, errands, answering e-mails, etc. but more than once a year, at Christmas time, it’s important to play – wrestle, take long walks, make snowmen, talk, read stories, watch movies – and not let a minute go by without cherishing the gift of family. Whatever your family looks like, whether with children or not, it’s valuable to you and that’s what is important.

I grew up spending the whole summer, every summer, with my sister and 5 cousins at my grandparents. We were always excited to get there and cried when it came time to leave.

There was nothing special to do at my grandparents. They didn’t have toys and never took us to a movie. We just hung around every day and played together and were part of their everyday life. I think that is what was so special. We belonged and were valued and safe.

They took us fishing and crabbing and we went to the cemetery with them to cut the grass around the family tombstones. They interacted with us in their regular daily living. We visited like that with them every year until I graduated from high school. In fact that’s where I got the idea of sitting around the kitchen table and talking (see my headline).

Occasionally on the weekends our parents would come to visit – some as far as 250 miles. Because it was a long ride just for the weekend, they would leave after work on Friday and drive until the early morning hours. We’d be in bed and hear them come in and Grandmom would put on a pot coffee.

She would fix them something to eat to give them a chance to unwind from their long trip before going up to bed. We’d lie in bed catching the aromas of food drifting upstairs and listen to the quiet sounds of their laughter and talk. It’s been over 35 years now since my grandparents have died and I still miss them.

I can still hear them in the only lit room in the house, talking and sitting around the lone, kitchen table with all of us nestled upstairs in our warm beds. How do you create those memories for our children, our families? The answer: time and giving of yourself.

How did we get so busy that we barely have time for supper, a few words and homework, before it’s time for bed and then the next morning it starts all over again? Before you know it a year has flown by, then 5 years and then high school and on, and on, and on….. How do you take back control of your life? As Nike says, “Just do it!”

If you don’t make the conscious decision to live the life you want to live, it will be done for you. Life just happens. As we approach this special time of the year, become aware of your routines and demands and decide to change it. Love more, live more, laugh more and make those special memories starting this very moment with your family – your loved ones.

Here is a little something from Erma Bombeck, writer and humorist, If I Had to Live My Life Over (written after she found out she was dying from cancer).


From the kitchen table – Pat

14 thoughts on “Family and Going Home

  1. Thanks for participating in the Christmas Edition of the Carnival of Family Life! The Carnival will go live at midnight (Pacific time) on December 24, 2007, at Colloquium!

    Happy holidays!

  2. Hello Pat,

    I really enjoyed that text of yours and what I appreciate in it, is not only the family bonds that you shared with your family members, but also the role that your grandmother played in your life, and the way she had been teaching you the true things of life which parents nowadays are unable to teach to their own children. She taught you the simplicity of life and of all the little things of life which today we tend to forget too much, since we are constantly enslaved with internet and technology, which became part of our daily lives. The way you had been living those experiences with your grandmother reminds me of lots of children stories I loved reading from Comtesse de Segur, a Russian born novelist who settled in France and who was very well known in French Children’s litereature in the 19th century. I love reading her books because the way she describes how children are happy, how they respect their elders, how they grow up developed, intelligent and healthy with so many outdoor activities and even a good indoor environment, should make us reflecting on about how life suddenly changed and how those little things of life don’t exist anymore like before.

    It also made me remembering about an extract from a blog post I wrote a couple of months ago regarding “The Five Hoods of the Female Human Nature”, a blog post of mine, and in the paragraph entitled “Grandmotherhood: The final step of the female human being”, where I described the grandmotherhood as the result of strong and at times tough life lessons showing us how grandmothers have an important role to play in children’s welfare and development, and I would like to share that extract with you and your readers too, for which I did a lot of researches too (a very long paragraph though) (Source:


    I have just seen a conclusion regarding a study made on several aged women who turned grandmothers, and here were the results I found (Source:

    “Role types are discussed and qualitative data which were obtained from the subjects are used to reinforce quantitative descriptions. The findings indicate: (1) grandparenting types are predicted by life style; (2) behaviors engaged in, that is, actions carried out in acting the grandmother role revolve primarily around babysitting, home recreation, and drop-in visits—mostly those initiated by the parent or by the grandchild; and (3) grandmotherhood is a role which is actively enjoyed by 80 percent of the respondents and for many (37 percent) it is more enjoyable than parenting because it provides easy joy and pleasure without the socialization responsibilities associated with parenthood.”

    As per what I have just read, if most grandmothers are acting like that towards their children, it’s because, thanks to wisdom growing up with age and life experience, they perfectly assumed their roles from childhood to motherhood. But their roles still remain quite complex, since they vary, according to the culture in which they have been evolving. If I take my own case, as an Afrasian Mauritian native who had been evolving within a traditional Hindu Mauritian family, my in-laws, though their children are grown-up, still have a very strong influence when it comes on the way for their children to manage properly their marriage life. For Hindu grooms, since even after marriage, they are still carrying the burden of the family name and tradition over their shoulders, they are strictly followed by their elders when it comes on leading their marriage life and the way the children should be raised, mostly following the father’s rites, rituals and family traditions than for the mother. Grandmothers also have a major role to play as a strong support for the new mothers when it comes on the child’s welfare, health and education, especially if the grandmother is the father’s mother. However, in Occidental culture, then both grandmothers should agree together about the way their grandchild will be raised up. I still remember some episodes of the successful serial movie “Desperate Housewives”, where Susan (Teri Hatcher) and Lynette (Felicity Huffman) had clashes together when it came about the responsibility of their future grandchild, since they learnt that Susan’s daughter Julie fell pregnant from Lynette’s son Porter. In an abstract of an article regarding the role of grandmotherhood in East Cameroon, where it’s stipulated that grandmothers easily replace mothers when they are working, but they raise their grandchildren in a completely different way than the mothers (Source: As per a study made with several Australian grandmothers, I quote, “For these women, grandmotherhood is important and brings joy but it is not the whole of their identity. Where responsibility for child care is involved, expectations and parameters need to be negotiated. Implications for the helping professions, child-care policy, and ageing policy involve the acknowledgment and valuing of grandparents’ caregiving activities, as well as the recognition of their freedom to explore new horizons, at this stage of the life course.” (Source:

    Finally, what about the role of grandmothers of children with sole parents? Here is an interesting conclusion that I have found about it, and which proves again that grandmothers are a true source of support and relief despite the ups and downs in the mother-child bond, thanks to their experience of life and thanks to their aptitude to help both the single mother in her transition from ladyhood to motherhood, and the child in her transition to childhood to girlhood/boyhood and then the grandchild’s transition from boyhood to manhood if it’s a grandson, or from girlhood to womanhood if it’s a granddaughter. According to me, most grandmothers were present physically, especially those who married at a very young age, to see the evolution of their grandchildren until womanhood or manhood, before passing away. But then, the parents arrived at a certain point of maturity where they can help their children arriving at the step from manhood to genthood or from womanhood to ladyhood, since those mature parents arrived at a point they can manage alone since their children grew up enough to reach those steps:

    “Overall, despite possible existing conflicts, grandmothers in general are found to be important stress reducers, either through emotional support or through practical intervention and support, to their lone mother daughters. Both roles, that of replacement parent and partner, seem to be of significant importance for the lone mothers as the motivation for this arrangement seems to be twofold. On one hand, these changing roles derive from the subjective experience of missing structures in their own lives (being a single parent and being without a partner) and, on the other, from the feelings they experience due to the missing structures in their children’s lives.

    Lone mothers value their children’s relationships with their grandparents in a stronger and more special way as they feel their children are anyway deprived of family structure and usually not only have one parent but have only half a family tree, being in touch mainly with their mother’s family. In the same sense, it is important for them to feel that grandparenting is a significantly valued construct for their parents, that there is an established emotional bond between their children and their parents. When asked how they view their mothers’ grandparenting, most interviewees state they view it as a role of being both a mother to them and a grandmother to their grandchildren and that both of these relationship connections are giving equal motivation for their grandparenting behavior. It seems important for mothers to feel that grandparenting is more than simply a new form of parenting and parental support. It is a relationship with equal importance and significance for all of the family members; it is a network for mutual support, which increases the well-being of all involved.

    Therefore, it can be concluded that both of these grandparental roles of parent and partner are welcomed by the lone mothers because they ease the feelings of guilt regarding imposing undesired responsibilities of care on the grandmothers. At the same time, these roles decrease the feelings of life failure and dependency by making the grandparental involvement a construct autonomous from the lone mothers themselves and resulting from the grandmothers’ own feelings of responsibility toward, or pleasure from, their grandchildren. Indeed, this feeling is an intrinsic characteristic of both parental and partnering relationships.” (Source:

    Also, whatever the cultural, social belonging may be, we can conclude in general that the chain of female human nature starts from childhood and ends with grandmotherhood, sometimes lengthens with great-grandmotherhood, though it’s rarer since great grandparents are most of the time elapsed from the generation chain, as per a study resulting that, I quote, “The respondents engaged in more frequent contact and activities with their grandparents than with their great-grandparents. They also perceived their grandparents as having a more defined role and being more influential in their lives than great-grandparents.” (Source:

    • Hi Uma — thank you for sharing. Whew — that’s a lot to respond to. There’s definitely a lot to be said on grandparenting. Bottom line for me is what you feel and exchange with your grandchildren. What I bring to the relationship is how I was raised and experiences I had. The beauty of it is each grandchild and grandparent is different and love is the balm that brings it together and makes it all work. Hugs xxoo 🙂

      • Hello again Pat,

        Yes I completely agree with you. The grandparenthood is different from its shape according to the cultural diversity, but the love for their grandchildren is definitely the same. I understood it through the way my young son and my nephew are being treated by my in-laws and by my nephew’s maternal grandparents as well. The other advantage too is that both my nephew and my son are very lucky to have had young grandparents, since they married very early like it was the coutume several decades ago in most Mauritian families. Also, not only do the grandparents spoil their grandchildren, but they are also of great help for assisting their children in their households and in the grandchildren’s welfare and education. See my in-laws for example. Since we are settled in Seychelles, my father-in-law, and sometimes my mother-in-law very often come to visit us to help us, especially since my son started his scholarship. When one of them or the both of them aren’t in Mauritius to look after my nephew, then it’s my nephew’s maternal grandparents who take over until my in-laws come back to Mauritius, since my nephew’s maternal grandparents don’t travel as often as my in-laws. But despite helping us a lot, those wonderful grandparents whom my son and my nephew have also feel lots of love, care and affection as well, and are really pampered 🙂 For example, my nephew has dinner at my in-laws’ place every Saturday evening and doesn’t even hesitate to order his dinner menu with them in advance, hihihihi…

        • I love to hear how connected the grandparents are in your country. It’s so important, I feel, in the balance and well being of family and for the children. Maybe, it’s living in the mountains and being more removed, that I don’t see that much grandparent involvement. And, maybe it’s because more families have split and remarried in our country that makes the connection of grandparents a little more difficult. I don’t know but can’t imagine not having my grandparents in my life growing up. It would have been so different. 🙂

          • Yes thank God grandparents still have their place in the Mauritian society, which still blames about sending elders into elderly homes or ashrams. Frankly speaking, I don’t understand why, especially in Europe, lots of youngsters send their elders in elderly homes, snatching them away from their original environment where they have been living for years raising their children. Regarding the fact that so many families split and remarried, I think on that point you are right, when it comes on making grandparenthood much more difficult and delicate, since the risk of conflicts in case of remarriages is higher.

          • That’s a good thing, Uma, that grandparents are treasured in your Mauritian society. I wish I could say the same for us here in the U.S. Now that I’m a grandparent, I see it from a different perspective and can see how important it is.

  3. Hello Pat, how are you doing? First of all my most sincere apologies for the late reply to your blog posts since I was caught up recently. I don’t know too much about how grandparents are seen in the US, but I always had pictures of lovely united families in the USA, which is something becoming rarer and rarer in Europe. I mentioned you about elderly homes in Europe but there is also another sad phenomenon in India, where some grandmothers and elderly women are abandoned in the streets by their children, remaining helpless and forced to beg and at times to prostitute themselves to earn a living 🙁 in Mauritius, though it’s rarer, there are some of them who even became tramps and homeless people but only God knows whether they did it with their own choice or if life circumstances made them becoming like this. I remember I was doing my tertiary studies in a training centre in the central part of Mauritius. Not far away from my training centre, there was a tramp lady who used to come from car to car to beg for money, not for her daily earning but rather to buy some cigarettes. She had a very miserable life and always wearing the same old clothes and a broom upon her shoulders. At times people even surprised her to poop in the streets publicly and indecently too! (sorry for mentioning with something so delicate with you dear :S) but this is to tell you about how those people are mistreated in mauritian society despite all the improvement (in appearance only unfortunately) of social life and conditions in our country. Those cases though, are rare, since most of the mauritian elders reside in their house due to their link with their families, but they are significant since youngsters become more and more selfish and don’t cultivate family bonds like in the past 🙁

    • Hi Uma — it sad to hear how conditions can be so bad not only for the elderly but many who have fallen on hard times. Even sadder to hear of the poor conditions of some elderly that have taken to the streets. I haven’t heard of that here in the States but some of the places the elderly have to go to live when they need care and someone to look after them aren’t the best.

      I wish it wasn’t that way and pray it will change over time. We can only do our best in our given situations as it really takes a commitment to love and care for others and it’s not just looking after people.

      Animals and pets need looking after too. We know as we’ve been watching our daughter’s puppy for a few months while they’re getting prepared to move out of state. Here’s a picture of Kimber.


      • AAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWW soooooooooooo cute puppy pat :))))) I really love him, he looks so sweet and adorable! Which breed is it? You were talking about your daughter’s dog who stayed at your place while your daughter was on the move, and you know what? Kimber has been very lucky to have had you besides him (or her) all the time, so that he (or she) didn’t feel too lonely during her masters’ absence. But in our case, we haven’t been that lucky since we moved away from Mauritius to settle in Seychelles. We had a cute Coton de Tulear named Poppy. Even though my husband’s uncle, parents and cousins regularly visited Poppy at his place, Poppy couldn’t be with them 24/7, which made that most of the time Poppy was very sad and lonely. Our neighbors, who often had a close look on Poppy from their windows, even told us frankly that at night, in the dark, Poppy cried very often, and it really made us sad. Also, we didn’t have any other opportunities than giving Poppy to another family. Even though we miss Poppy a lot, in another hand though we are happy for him because his new adoptive family, a couple of retired Sino-Mauritians living at 5 minutes from my in-laws’ place, are true pet lovers and pamper Poppy with lots of love and care. Moreover, they even allow us and the rest of the family visiting Poppy regularly at their place to maintain the contact with him 🙂

        Regarding the neglected elderly, but frankly speaking, and maybe you will understand my point of view, I am totally AGAINST elderly homes, because it’s hard for elder people to get snatched away from their homes, where they had been living for so many years, and where they are living behind them a lot of memories of their past. The home for elderly concept is still very badly seen by Mauritians despite the evolution of society. For example regarding my in-laws, they will never accept to abandon their house and will stay there until their very last breath, since it’s the fruit of their sweating and hard labor.

        • Ha-ha-ha she is a cutie, Uma. Her breed is a wire-haired pointing griffon and, boy, is she into birds, actually caught one. She’s in getting spayed this morning. The next step of the process in getting her ready to move with her people in a couple of weeks. Here’s another one of her in a playful mood (sorry, it’s not so clear). She likes to almost stand on her head.

          Playful Kimber almost standing on her head

          I’m sorry to hear you couldn’t keep your puppy but always glad when there are loving families to adopt them and take care of them. It’s been a complete upside down change for us having a puppy in the house and one so active. I’ve forgotten how you have to keep a close eye on them.

          I can understand your feelings about elderly homes, too, Uma. Unfortunately, for a lot they have no choice. Either their health or financial circumstances choose for them and there’s no one else to look after them. My mother-in-law stayed in her home almost up to the end. She was 94 and had assistance with housecleaning and grocery shopping and had those that popped in and visited on occasion from the church. She still had a clear mind and a strong will. That’s the way I’d like to live out my last days.

          • Oh my God, she is soooooooooooo adorable and heart-melting, Pat! Even I want to play with her when I see her in that playful mode! BTW how do you do to include pictures in your comments, since I don’t see that option on my WordPress?

            Yes that’s true that for Poppy we have been very lucky… But unfortunately there are still lots of dogs which are mistreated in Mauritius, and which are living in the streets. Also they are collected most of the time to be settled in kennels for a couple of days before being euthanized, especially if they are not registered dogs! It’s incredible! That’s the big difference compared to France where you see those dogs so well groomed! My husband’s uncle always says that one thousand times better to have a dog than a human as your companion, because dogs will always be thankful and friendly to you in a way that humans will never be. Yes you are right about having a close eye on them, exactly like children. We experienced it mostly with Honeymoon, another puppy we had before Poppy while we were still settled in Madagascar. Poppy was really treated like a princess at home and she even had her own perfume, shampoo, brush, etc LOL! I still remember when I was pregnant and having my afternoon nap, Honeymoon used to sleep next to me and it was so good to feel the warmth of her little hairy body close to my womb with her little baby perfume… And each time she woke up together with us early morning, she kept on licking my hands for a long time 🙂 unfortunately, Honeymoon left us after a tragic car accident, as per what I related in my post “The Rainbow Day of My Life”. Do you remember?

            I am very happy that your mother-in-law always stayed in her own environment, though she had an assistant besides her and regular visits during her old days, and that is wonderful. By coincidence, my mother-in-law’s mother too had the same luck and had a hospital nurse who regularly came to assist her every day. However what was sad with her was her daughter-in-law. Her daughter-in-law never participated into the house chores nor the cooking. Her husband, who suffers from a physical disability further to work accident, her elder son who was unfortunately born trisomic and my husband’s maternal grandmother were three pensioners at home. But instead of saving that money for the households, the daughter-in-law took all that money to finish it in restaurants! Had it been another person, my husband’s maternal grandmother would have slapped her daughter-in-law instead of tolerating her, since Hindu mothers-in-law are known, for most of them, to be real iron women towards their daughters-in-law. But my husband’s maternal grandmother was a quiet and sweet nature who always tolerated everything quietly without saying a word… and who left Mother Earth quietly without any health disease, and without bothering anyone. My mother-in-law inherited her beauty, sweetness and delicateness, but contrary to my husband’s maternal grandmother, my mother-in-law was more characterial and very often insolent towards my father-in-law, which created useless discussions between them. But despite all, deep inside herself she is a good nature too.

          • She is indeed playful, for sure Uma and a lot of fun. Oh so active and when she gets to going is like a Tasmanian devil flying through the house. We’ve had to tone it down a little for her and help her to save her energies for outside. It’s the same here with so many animals without homes. I’m glad there’s a lot of encouragement here to neuter and spay your pets. But, there are still a lot of homeless pets.

            Aw, Honeymoon, sounded so precious snuggling up to you when you were pregnant. That’s the way they are and seem to instinctively know when we need that extra love. I’ll bet you miss her. I can share the same feelings as your husband’s uncle because they’re always patient, forgiving and not judgmental.

            With regard to in-laws and family, they are all so different yet special. That’s what we love about them. 🙂

            (P.S. Oh, I forgot. To add your pictures in your comments you have to have it uploaded in your media library on your site and then go into the photo and get the URL and paste that into your comment.)

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