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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)

TITLE: A little child shall lead them
By Anne Linington


During my Grandmother's stay, it was necessary for me to share a bedroom with her in our fairly crowded three-bedroom “Cornish unit”- a rather ugly style of British 1950's post-war housing made of prefabricated concrete. In was during this time, aged six, coming seven, that I learned to ask questions, which would later define much of my School, Work and Church life. I loved to ask questions. Every night, Grandma, patiently answered every one before I settled down to sleep . In the morning I would tell my Dad all that I had learned about his family, in particular the various great-Aunts, Grandma's four siblings, a veritable Who's-Who of my father's family. I was especially attracted to my name-sake, Great Aunt Annie, Grandma's eldest sister. I only wish now that I could recall even a small part of the information she imparted. The family's fortunes changed when Grandma's father died in his forties. Annie aged fourteen had to go “into service”, as did her mother taking the younger girls with her.

What I didn't know at that time was that when Grandma became pregnant out of wedlock, Granddad's family would have nothing to do with the young couple, a rift that never healed.
Eventually they moved to Ireland, and the family was never reconciled, even when a second son died aged at the age of two.

With hindsight, I wonder how much pain my probing brought to the surface, and whether our conversations had some benefit in themselves?. Did this grandmother/ grand-daughter relationship have any therapeutic value for the elderly lady, almost fifty years after the traumatic events? There was never any reluctance in answering my searching questions. Perhaps innocently, I gave her an opportunity to think about former days and in some small way come to terms with her life events.

This formative experience almost certainly began in me the enjoyment of asking questions, not fearing to ask even difficult ones on occasion. Listening to story, the narrative of people's often extraordinary lives is a privilege. Whether it is in a hospital waiting room, at a parking meter, in a Supermarket Queue, I find that very quickly someone has told me part of their life story, or some pain or fear that is on their mind.

If like me you feel led by God to say hello, ask an open question, listen without judgment to a story- including the pain- then perhaps in some small way we can provide the sounding-board that many need; to hear themselves, to re-process their thinking and to come up with their own solutions for going forward.

Perhaps the greatest gift we can offer is to re-affirm their humanity by our listening, and say “you are valuable, you really matter”.

Thanks Grandma!

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This article has been read 735 times
Member Comments
Member Date
mick dawson04/11/08
Brilliant!!! You've illustrated a thought I have shared for years. The one thing everyone wants on this earth is not 'love' as is often procalimed but for someone to care about what they have to say. So it is a mercy I give everyone. I listen to the hurts of anyone whenever they wish to speak, even enemies at times have done this with me. Thankyou.
Patty Wysong04/12/08
What a wonderful grandmother. Answering a million questions requires care and patiences--such a gift she gave you. And such a gift you now give to others.
Joshua Janoski04/13/08
You speak such great truth in this article. If we would all take a little extra time to just stop and "listen" to each other, then surely there would be a lot less hurting people in this world.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. :)
c clemons04/16/08
Good story, a little nit-pick with the first paragraph with all the capitalization of some words that did not need it. The story flowed better towards the end. Keep writing.