ON THE RUN - They say hello, you say goodbye

Two nights ago I watched my son stand beside his paternal grandma's bedside, holding her hand but not knowing what to say to this person who has been so much a part of his life.

Her confused eyes looked at him briefly, trying to figure out who this young man was. We like to think she knew him. How could she not? Those two have always had a special relationship, probably because when everyone else in his world might have been mad at him, she thought he was perfect.

In return, he loved her unconditionally. "Don't you just love grandma's laugh?" he asked when he was about five years old. In those teen years when the rest of us were a major inconvenience for him, he was there to carefully help his grandma in and out of cars or houses. Icy sidewalks scared her, but not when he was beside her.

He never felt embarrassed by her - or at least he never let on - and he might have because she was a spirited woman who said whatever came to her mind most of the time. She thought he was a great hockey player and said so even if his whole team was within earshot.

She also considered him on his way to musical stardom. Her favourite music may be classical, but when she heard his rock band play, wow, those were her kind of tunes. Go to music school, she urged, while the rest of us suggested a more reliable profession might be the better choice.

There was pain in his eyes as he looked down at this tiny shadow of his grandma who is in the last stage of her life. For the first time, he didn't know what to say to her or do for her.

One day he will understand that grandparents don't need much more from their grandchildren, except love. And that's never been in short supply.

This is not a unique story. Grandparents and grandchildren have a special connection. They always have and they always will, given a chance.

Long after their deaths, memories of my grandparents are as clear and beautiful as when the events were actually happening.

Children may not realize until they are adults the crucial role grandparents play in their lives and grandparents may never know how important they are to their grandchildren. The only thing they both know for sure is the enjoyment they get from each other.

Take Ron Wilgosh, for example. He didn't go to Disney World with his daughter and her family, but he might as well have been there from the email reports he got daily from his 14-year-old grandson, Grant Sorensen. They were informative and funny and Ron was proud as could be about the writing prowess of his grandson.

As it turns out, he and Grant are great pals. Christine Sorensen said her dad and her son share big thoughts. They talk about all sorts of topics, but particularly enjoy financial discussions. Ron is fully behind Grant's contention that since someone has to run major industry, when he grows up it might as well be him.

Grant said he and his grandfather share a passion for current events and are never short of something to talk about it. In fact, he considers himself pretty lucky to have four wonderful grandparents, all living in Kamloops.

It's true that some families don't have that connection. Everyone is different. But in most cases, it's not a relationship that's diminishing in passing generations. The new breed of grandparent may even be worse than their predecessors when it comes to talking about the little additions to their lives.

Some workplaces have had to ban email chatter as new grandparents share their excitement through photos and stories to workmates who may not be quite so interested.

How wonderful that little people are being welcomed into the world with such enthusiasm and anticipation of watching them grow up and being part of their development.

Years later, when a grandchild says goodbye to his grandparent who is leaving the world, there may be deep sadness, but, in a very different way, it's also wonderful.

That grief is a tribute to the love they shared.

Susan Duncan is city editor of The Daily News. Her column appears Fridays. Email her at sduncan@kamloopsnews.ca.

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