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As the snowsuits start appearing in the stores (I wish I was joking), it’s a good time to plan ahead for grandparent’s day, which falls on the first Sunday after Labour Day. If you are lucky enough to still have your grandparents in your life, why not take them out for lunch, ask questions about their youth, and ask for advice on whatever you need help with.

Grandparents are not only a treasure trove of love and candy, they have experiences beyond our comprehension. Some grandparents have seen the introduction of electricity into their Toronto homes (1911). Others recall when televisions started being sold (1952). Maybe your own grandparents remember when minivans started to replace station wagons (1983, off the Chrysler assembly line in Windsor).

My maternal grandfather died before I was born so I didn't get to know him at all. Both of my mother’s parents must have been incredibly strong individuals. They brought four of their five children with them to Canada from Ukraine in 1927. My mom was the youngest of the kids and they had left their older daughter in Ukraine as she had already married and had a child. They came to Canada, like others, to give their family a better life and escape communism.

Now that I am a parent and grandparent myself, I can better understand how much of a risk and how difficult it must have been for them all to pick up and leave. It certainly makes me even more sympathetic to those trying to flee the current war in Ukraine this past year.

My dad's mother was born in Canada as was my father and his siblings. My grandmother married my grandfather when she was 15 and he was 30! I can't even imagine how that relationship developed and survived till my grandfather's passing at age 89. They were also of Ukrainian heritage and early homesteaders in Manitoba.

Both of my parent’s families lived their lives focused around the church, religion and the Ukrainian culture. My parents brought this to their own marriage as well. It was very much entrenched in their identity and we lived this in our family life. I still refer to myself as Ukrainian. 

What I carry forward from my grandparents are the ties to tradition (including the great food) and the importance of family.

Our grandmothers may have taught us how to lattice the top of an apple pie; our grandfathers may have shown us the difference between augur bits and drill bits. Most of us have tid-bits of advice our grandparents shared, advice that we still carry with us.

Some wise advice others have shared:

Do what you can when that’s all you can do. 

What you carry in your head, you don't carry on your back.

Don’t try to fix someone else.

If you ARE the right person, you will find the right person.

Too often, we don’t take the time to really talk with our grandparents. It’s just as important to have meaningful conversations with your grandparents, as it is to have open communication with your own parents and children. Enjoy and cherish them—and their knowledge—while you still can.

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