Seeing 2020 through Grandpa’s Glasses

Seeing 2020 through Grandpa’s Glasses

In this article

2020 — The year of clarity. Or so we said a year ago January.

And then the unexpected happened?

It definitely brought some thoughts into focus. Like the importance of the mundane. (We’ll never look at toilet paper the same.)

Other issues? They got a little blurry. Like what jobs were “essential.”

But through it all, one image became crystal clear:

Our senior citizens.

And how much their health means to us.

So what visions will grandparents take from 2020?

Those Blue Skies—The Sunny Outlook

Yes, there was the bright side.

1. Hidden in Plain Sight: Realizing Just How Important Grandparents Are

A grandparent is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend.” – Unknown

Growing older inevitably brings loses: friends, abilities, memories… Each goodbye can make seniors feel invisible.

But with 2020? Their lives became the spotlight. And the whole world was willing to fight for them.

Yes, what that fight looked like differed from person to person. Not everyone agreed on the best way to protect them.

But over the last year, so many prayers have gone up for their safety. And we recognize their value to society, their worth—no matter their age or abilities.

It’s clear: Grandparents—and great-grandparents and great-great grandparents—still have something to offer.

2. A Sight for Sore Eyes: Frail Grandparents Aren’t a Responsibility—They’re a Treasure

“Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.”– Catherine Pulsifer

The one thing no one wants is to be that dreaded B word: a burden.

So in America where we almost worship our independence? And then Grandpa suddenly needs to depend on others?

That hated word starts to show up in his vocabulary.

But 2020 has sharpened the truth for us. Senior citizens are not burdens. Not an encumbrance, or an impediment, or a weight weighing us down.

Instead, they’re gems worth sacrificing for.

Again, how that’s carried out is not the point here. It’s that they’re worth it. And 2020 magnified that.

3. Focus on the Family: Homing in on What Matters

“A grandparent has silver in their hair and gold in their heart.” – Unknown

Our society is known for having so much on the horizon, our eyes can’t take it all in. Running from this meeting to that practice to the other game before the big dance and the party after.

2020 blurred all that out.

In its place? The open views presented only what was before us.

Family.

Meaning we had plenty of time to finally make that phone call to Grandma.

And with today’s technology–video chatting, et al—she could look us in the eyes. See the grandkids’ latest macaroni craft. Even read a bedtime story…

…while we could make sure she looked like she was eating—

Even if we were states apart.

No, the tech opportunities weren’t 2020-new.  But we finally had time to use them. A lot.

And connecting online with family—and adopted family—kept the other unknowns from eclipsing our eyes.

But, of course, those silver linings also highlighted the dark clouds.

Those Stormy Nights—The Sad “Blue Moon” Displays

Yep, there were a lot of dark clouds—especially for grandparents.

4. It’s All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye (OR, in this case, Their Taste.)

“When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty, my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.” – Sam Lefkowitz

2020 brought things front and center that may not have even been in our peripheral vision.

In the past, we’d pass off little changes in our grandparents’ health as “just getting older,” something they had to accept. Hearing was a little harder? Seeing a little darker? Smelling a little less? That was to be expected

And then 2020 zoomed in, giving us a taste—or lack thereof—ourselves.

Suddenly, it was an issue.

Everything became comments about what we could smell. What we could taste. And what we couldn’t.

When Grandma and Grandpa may have been struggling with that for a while.

The causes for them? Possibly medication. Allergies. Infections. Dementia. Parkinson’s. And yes, maybe just from getting older as taste buds become less effective.

But it took a whole nation struggling with it in 2020 to focus the scope. “Huh, this isn’t so fun.”

And we didn’t hear one grandparent say, “Told ya.”

5. Room with a View

“One of the most powerful handclasps is that of a new grandbaby around the finger of a grandfather.”  – Joy Hargrove

As much as technology was a blessing, the fact that it was often the only way we could connect? Even if we were just blocks away?

That was hard!

Family gatherings. Canceled. Graduation hugs reduced to waves. 80th birthday parties—zoomed signs.

The need for human touch became masked by the need to keep them safe.

And then, if the worst happened?  Whether from Covid or some other illness? And family, friends couldn’t be there?

That’s the hardest view.

Then our best glimpse came through windows. Not the computer kind, but the brick and mortar—where maybe we could do a drive-by. Or stand with our hands against the glass.

And if that wasn’t possible, praying that nurses were there to comfort. That someone held their hand.

That they didn’t die alone.

That 2020 vision was painful to see.

“My grandpa taught me everything except how to live without him.” —unknown

Has 2021 Been Any Clearer?

Sometimes 2020 vision helps us see the blessings we have.

Sometimes that clarity rips away the softness and leaves the footage raw.

Either way, Grandma and Grandpa need to be able to process it like the rest of us.

So even if everything seems like it might be going back to normal, we can’t just flip the calendar and move on.

Because, as April Burns Pieces of April

“Once, there was this day… this one day when… everyone realized they needed each other.”

2020 clearly showed us—that day is now.

Elizabeth Daghfal
• 4 min read

Elizabeth Daghfal is a writer, teacher, speaker, and community volunteer. When she isn't teaching or writing-- Who are we kidding? Her husband and five kids say she's ALWAYS teaching and writing. She has a passion to help people who are struggling and is happy to say her shoulders are drip-dry. Born and raised in the South, she now lives in Wisconsin and loves it--except for the fifteen months of winter. Read more about her at elizabethdaghfal.com.