Looking at the historic, social, and family issues of the contemporary grandmother experience.
‘Grandmothers are not just for Christmas.’
When my parents were in their eighties, my husband Chris and I, took them on holidays, to places we knew would intrigue them. They were farmers and had always been interested in local heritage, family histories and the industrial archaeology of Cornwall where they lived. I remember excursions from my childhood, that would typically involve a holy well, a moorland stone circle or the source of a river. In the seventies, Mum and Dad helped to create the their local history centre and took their turn to be on duty there. It wasn’t unusual for Dad to point visitors from Canada or Australia looking for relatives, to their cousins. He knew who had married whom, back in the thirties and forties.
In their old age they were delighted to be taken away from Cornwall, to visit Ely Cathedral, Lindisfarne, Iona, Orkney, and the Hebrides. Their enthusiasm was catching, and those subjects previously associated with my childhood sulks, came alive for me.
In a way, it feels as if they are accompanying me now, while I research the subject of folklore and in particular the experience of being a grandmother. During this reading and writing journey I am finding them more co-operative now, than they were in real life.
If you would like to join the three of us on this ethnological journey you would be very welcome. There will be all kinds of history, ideas and folklore associated with the experience of women to uncover, as I explore and interview over the next few years.
Along the way we will be looking at the experience of being a contemporary grandmother and asking the questions:
Who are we, and where do we come from?
How does society view us?
What is it like being a grandmother for our generation, born after the war with all the advantages that were offered at that time?
What family history are we able to share with the younger generation?
Do they want it/need it?
Are we finding new ways of connecting with our faraway families?
Lastly, do we have a community responsibility to link our family future generations into their family past.
All these questions are relevant if you think, like me, a grandma is not just for Christmas.