An Exclusive Story of a Long-distance Grandparent

Our daughters had each been married for a couple of years when it happened. One of them called from her home two hours away to announce that my husband and I were going to become grandparents.

Let me tell you! The moment I hung up that phone, images of this new relationship I was about to enter began racing through my mind. Of course, I was going to be the coolest, most fab grandmother on the planet! This yet-to-be-born child and I were going to share something truly extraordinary.

The months passed, and our first granddaughter was born in early December.

Remember… First grandchild! Two-hour drive!

My husband and were there for the birth. Naturally, we were there again the following weekend to help (and to see our precious grandbaby again.)

Then, the next thing we knew, it was Christmastime. All our family was gathering at our home for the holidays. Aunts, uncles, and great-grandparents came, eager to meet the newest member of our family for the very first time. And much to our delight, that Christmas also brought with it a massive snowstorm, snowing everyone in for a couple of extra days. It was, indeed, a wonderful, family-filled December!

But as the month ended, the snow cleared. And everyone went home.

January followed. Then February.

It did not take long once those cold, dreary months settled in, for reality to settle in as well. While we had been able to spend most of December with our family and our precious new granddaughter, weather conditions and busy schedules meant neither family was making the two-hour trip back and forth very often.

During those lonely months, I began to connect the dots.

The images I had created around this new and extraordinary relationship were not my reality. As I thought and pondered, I realized that my image making had been based on a model that was dear to me – my own mother’s relationship with my children.

My mother lived in our same town, fifteen minutes away. She had been involved in the daily lives of my children from the day they were born – school functions, sporting events, lunch outings on school holidays, and slumber parties complete with movies, popcorn, and games.

This was not my reality. I did not live in the same town as my granddaughter. I lived about two hours away. Daily interaction, even weekly interaction, was not possible.

I was a long-distance grandmother!

Still dealing privately with this very depressing-to-me fact, we received another phone call – from our other daughter. Yes, you guessed it. She was expecting our second grandchild. As if two hours’ distance wasn’t bad enough, this grandchild was going to live ten hours away!!

My husband and I immediately began investigating different travel options in hopes of finding something that would get us there quickly when it came time for the birth. The distance of each of our homes from nearby airports meant air travel was no quicker than driving. So driving was the choice.

Needless to say, we didn’t make that birth. We got the call around 10:00 PM, jumped immediately into the car, and drove all night. Our grandson was born while we were still about two hours out. It had happened already. We missed out on a special event because of the traveling distance.

Still, we enjoyed a couple of days “oohing” and “aahing” over our precious bundle and loving on our new little family unit. Then we packed up and headed back home.

Home – where the idea kept rolling around in my mind until it was firmly planted, I AM a long-distance grandma!

The following spring, my husband and I were invited back to Missouri for our grandson’s baby dedication. It would be a quick trip. One my husband couldn’t take due to work. So, my mom went along to keep me company on the drive and to spend some time with her great-grandson.

I remember it so clearly. We were sitting in the living room of her home on Saturday evening, when out of nowhere, my daughter looked at me and asked, “Mom, what are we going to do?”

Not having any idea what she was talking about, I asked for a bit of clarity.

Explaining, she continued. “There’s a ten-hour drive between us. I want my son to know you. I want him to know his grandparents, and I want you to know him. What are we going to do?”

There it was, out in the open.

The thought that had been rolling around in my heart for nearly a year and a half, a thought I had not shared with anyone.

What an affirmation to know that she cared; that the relationship between grandparent and grandchild was important to her.

Obviously, we were not able to come up with any pat answers that very night, but we did resolve to seek them out.

It has been nearly eighteen years, yet the purpose planted deep within my heart that night remains with me.

My great desire is to enjoy that special and extraordinary relationship that I imagined eighteen years ago. I want that relationship with each of my grandchildren. The four who live around the corner. And, yes, the eight who live hours away. I ache to know them. I long for them to know me. The yearning of my heart is that my relationship with each one helps them come to know Jesus Christ personally.

Standing here, eighteen years later, it is one of the greatest blessings of my life to realize that those long-ago images of a one-of-a-kind relationship were not that far off. No, I did not discover a magical way to make the miles disappear. Nor did I find a way to interact with my long-distance grandchildren on a daily, in-person basis. What I did manage to discover were some creative ways to overcome the geographical distance barrier to build close, loving relationships with my grandchildren.

4 comments on “An Exclusive Story of a Long-distance Grandparent

  1. I have this scenario with ALL my grandchildren living a minimum 2 hrs away different directions. 8 total grandchildren,
    What are some ways you have stayed connected with your 8 Grands that live away?

    • Whoa, Joy, that answer could take a while. Short answer: (First, let me say technology has come a long way since our first long-distance grands were born eighteen years ago!)

      Anyway, short answer: FaceTime or anything similar. We use it a lot for lots of things-catching up, praying and sharing prayer requests, hobbies. A couple granddaughters bake. They send me pictures of their goodies and we swap recipes.

      Snail mail is another biggie. They love receiving mail and you can mail so many things.

      I hope this helps.

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