The St. Croix River in northern Maine separates the United States and Canada. The International Avenue Bridge connects the two countries. On August 9, 2021, we sat in our car on that bridge for nearly five hours – along with hundreds and hundreds of others. Like us, they had been waiting a long time for the border to re-open.
As soon as Canada announced the opening, we began packing to go. We researched what would be required of us to once again enter Canada and be able to hug our grandchildren. Passports – check. Vaccinations – check. Negative COVID test within 72 hours of crossing – check, the arriveCAN app completely filled out and submitted – check.
The Canadian Border Agent was friendly. He asked us the usual questions about why we were there and what we had with us. We said we wanted to visit our grandchildren, and brought our clothes, food, and presents. He asked how long it had been – I answered almost TWO years. He replied, “I know that look.” Then he let us in!
Grand hugs all around
When we arrived at their home in Nova Scotia, our kids and grandkids began pouring out the front door and met us at the car. The hugs felt so good. We laughed, we cried, we caught up with each other, and we ate (one of our family’s superpowers). Despite the immense joy I was feeling, my heart had a twinge of sadness for all the grandparents who weren’t yet able to feel the loving hugs from their grandkids.
We had tons of fun, and time flew by. All too soon, it was time to head back home. The border crossing back into the US was much simpler and quicker. We were the only car crossing into Maine. The US Border Agent asked us where we had been and where we lived. Then we were on our way.
Even though we’d had digital visits with our grandchildren while the border was closed, visiting in person is a whole nether level of lovely. While we were together, they weren’t needing to take time out of their lives to visit with us, we were embedded into theirs.
It was wonderful to share stories, ask questions, and tell jokes – all the things that naturally flow out of everyday conversations.
Then, of course, we ate. Us Owensbys know how to eat. Did I mention that it’s one of our main superpowers? It was all so wonderful!
During this time of COVID closures, while we were missing our Canadian grandkids, we are still blessed because we actually have a couple of grandchildren living close to us here. We have the joy of visiting with them occasionally, but sadly, the virus has caused us to cut way back on our times together.
Grandparents are regarded as so important that in 1977, Congress passed the legislation, proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparent’s Day.
The desire to be around our grandkids is not simply a selfish yearning. There have been studies that show “Bonding with grandchildren brings satisfaction, a sense of purpose and mutual unconditional love.”
If you’re not sure what to do when the g-kids are over, a website called the Legacy Project has an extensive list of activities guides to help plan for a fun time.
But wait, there’s more!
“There is good news for non-grandparents, too: Childless older adults who gave emotional support to others in their lives survived several years longer than those who didn’t reach out.” If there are no children in your world to connect with, take heart – benefits also come from owning and caring for a pet. We have several grand-kitties and a grand-doggy that we love dearly. According to News in Health, “Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.”
The bottom line here is to find a person or pet with whom you can create a sense of emotional closeness. Someone to care for and who you are willing to invest your time and energy.
If you are wondering how to be sure that you are the best grandparent you can be, the former mayor of New York provides some insight:
“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”Rudolph Giuliani
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My book, “FinishingWell: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and tips about doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find joy on your own, unique journey. Find our group on Facebook