Updated: Jul 15, 2020
If this Covid situation has taught us one thing, it might be that "distance makes the heart grow fonder." When we all of a sudden weren't able to get together with friends and family, it helped us to realize how much we took those personal relationships and time spent together for granted. Our elderly are especially hit hard by this. I've always imagined that our later years in life might be a little more lonely, and now physically distancing from our high risk population is imperative to their health - and deepens that loneliness.
If you are a follower of List With Purpose, you may have heard the story of how I got started. I created List With Purpose as a way to track my goals, but more importantly as a way to make sure I was intentionally living my life. When my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I created the "relationship" portion of the List With Purpose Goal Tracker. I knew that connecting with her on a regular basis had become more important than ever, so it became a goal of mine to call her and my grandpa every single month.
If you are blessed enough to still have any living grandparents, I highly recommend setting this goal for yourself. The conversations I've had with them have been so good for the soul. Even if they are only five minute conversations, you can hear the JOY in their voices when they pick up the phone.
Recently, we got a reminder from my mom saying that if we haven't called Grandma and Grandpa in a while, that we should probably do so. It had been a while since I last called, so I put it on my 'to-do' list. The next day, I heard a song that I've always referred to in my head as "Grandpa's song." He used to play it on his record player when we were kids, and anytime I hear it I think of him immediately. I can hear his voice singing the "woohoo" part. That really pulled on my heart strings. "Ok God, I hear you - thanks for the very clear reminder!"
So I made their phone call a priority and called them right away that afternoon.
They were in good spirits, but when I asked my grandpa how they were doing his response was "Oh we're managing. Thank God we have each other otherwise I don't know what we would do."
They are both about 80 years old with ongoing health issues, as most 80 year olds do. They have had little to no visitors what-so-ever since March because Covid could be deadly for them. They play cards together, watch TV, do some laundry, and eat dinner....day, after day, after day.
People offer to come visit with them and stay outside, but the recent heat and humidity is painful for their bodies. They don't have internet (nor would they really even know what to do it with). There just isn't an ideal solution right now.
It was painful to hear my grandpa talk about this. I could hear it in his voice and I felt so guilty about not calling sooner. While local businesses and life in general is starting to show a glimmer of normalcy for us here in the Midwest, things are still the same for them as they were four months ago.
So, I am challenging you to put your grandparents on speed dial! They grew up actually talking to people on a phone (say what?!) — quick texts and social media comments might feel more normal to us, but phone calls are equally normal for them. It might feel awkward at first, but they really do love hearing your voice — even if you don't have a whole lot to say. Simply asking "how are you today?" is enough to get a conversation rolling.
Conversation Tip #1: Find out their birth dates and anniversary dates - then ask them related questions about their special day. For birthdays, ask a question about their childhood. For anniversaries, ask how they met. Hearing the story of how my grandparents met (being told by my grandma and grandpa) was a phone call I will never forget!
Conversation Tip #2: Come prepared! Write down a quick list of the things you've been up to, current events that might interest them, or questions you can ask them.
This week, I added their phone number to my list of Favorites (it is probably the only remaining landline number I have left in my phone's address book!) and moved their phone call up into my weekly relationship goals.
And lastly, I am getting our kids involved. They can draw pictures and we can send letters. I may quarantine the mail for 72 hours to be sure we don't spread any of our germs to them, but maybe it's one more thing that can brighten their day. These are such simple things to do, but if we aren't intentional about doing them, then our busy schedules can really get the best of us. I just really wish I would have started this sooner and had the opportunity to connect like this with both sets of my grandparents.
It's the least we can do!
Want to track more than just business goals and start living more intentionally? Start here with the FREE goal tracking PDF!