THE MOORE THINGS CHANGE: A fantastic thing!
I OFTEN RECALL two pieces of advice my fraternal grandmother gave me as a teenager back there in the Fifties. She said: “Boy, when you borrow money never let the person who lent you that money have to remind you about it. By the time that happens that person has already lost respect for you.”
I would also hear: “When you borrow money never hope that the person who lent you that money will forget about it.”
Sarah Moore lived a simple frugal life up to the age of 87. She saved and participated in meeting turns to buy lumber which she, like thousands of other thrifty Barbadians, stored “under” the cellar for later home improvement.
When the moment arrived, she would call in the village carpenter Darnley Beckles to put on the shed-roof, replace the shingles or do some other extension or repairs.
Homes without the nurturing support of grandparents in the immediate vicinity are handicapped. They are so much better off and lucky when the great-grandparents are also present.
Last year I sat among a distinguished group of Barbadian educators who adjudged an essay competition in secondary schools sponsored by the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP).
Therese, the winner among the junior essayists, named her grandparents as her best friends. She credited them for bringing stability to the family: “My grandparents are the backbone of my family. They are readily available to take care of me when I fall ill and they provide child care, financial assistance and emotional support. They take on the roles of babysitter, chauffeur and caregiver.”
Fourteen-year-old Chade made this observation: “Grandparents are wiser than parents and can communicate with young people more easily. A lot of things that parents do not seem to understand are easily understood by grandparents because of their many experiences in life.
“Some grandparents should not be doing so many chores in the home. They should be resting while parents take care of us. We should help to watch over our grandparents because even though they are doing well for us, some children do not respect them; they treat them badly.”
Fourteen-year-old Danica admires her grandmother for all her strong qualities, especially the fact that she has faced so many tribulations andcan still walk around with a smile on her face.
“She is a strong disciplinarian who always makes my cousins and me stay away from bad company.”
Her grandfather is a cool cat: “He is a more laid-back. He would always find something to do to make us laugh, but when it is time to get serious he makes sure we understand what he is saying isn’t any joke.”
Behaviourists argue that the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is stronger than between parents and children because grandparents and grandchildren usually have something in common: they share the condition of dependency – grandparents retired and children not yet earning.
It was therefore no surprise to hear this from essayist Rashida: “My grandparents seem to be more understanding than my parents. I can take any situation to them and they would try to see it from their perspective. If they do not agree with me then they would make some suggestions that would help me.”
Elizabeth wrote: “They encourage me when I am down; they show me the bright side of every situation; they take time to explain things that are new to me; when I am ill-behaved they might smack me but that only proves they care; they lend me books; they comfort me when I’m afraid.”
A friend who became a grandmother earlier this year sent me this note last week: “Carl, it is the most fantastic thing in the world. I thought having children was the best thing that could happen – but it is grandchildren. We have not yet experienced the situations described by the children in your column as Amaya is still a baby.”
• Carl Moore was the first Editor of THE NATION and is a social commentator. Email [email protected]