News Story

Celebrating Grandparents as "Memory Makers"

What will you leave for your grandchildren? What will they remember?

Formally recognized in Canada in 1995 and now celebrated each year on the first Sunday after Labour Day, Grandparents Day is a special opportunity to honour a vital link between past and future generations.

Families are the fundamental unit of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of a stable society. The Church recognizes the importance of grandparents to the structure of every family and to the nurturing and upbringing of their children’s children.

Feeling it’s his “duty” to know what is happening in the lives of each of his 35 grandchildren, Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church for 42 years and former president of the Canada Toronto Mission, shared some personal thoughts during a multistake conference in Brampton, Ontario, on August 21, 2016. The meeting was live-streamed to other Church buildings in the province.

Elder Ballard spoke of the important role of grandparents. “You can leave heirlooms,” he said, “but the most precious things you can leave are memories. When you are gone, you won’t be gone in [your grandchildren’s] lives — they will remember you. Grandparents, you are memory makers.”

Dale Smith, a member of the Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, commented, “What I enjoy most about being a grandfather is that I have the time to really enjoy being with my grandchildren. Being a grandfather is a gift!”

The benefits of grandparent relationships flow both ways. Dale’s wife, Monica, said, “I love being with my grandchildren! They make me laugh. They love unconditionally. They are so trusting and spontaneous! They remind me to find joy in the simple things in life, and [they] keep me active and young at heart. Their hugs and kisses are rejuvenating! I love listening to them sing and pray, and I love reliving favourite activities spent with my own children.”

Not all parents receive the “gift” of becoming a grandparent, but they can love and mentor other children who may not have a grandparent involved in their lives.

Eight of the 16 grandchildren of Carol and John Crilley, members of the Church in Saint John, New Brunswick, were adopted. “There was an instant powerful feeling of love for these children,” Carol said, “with added emotion for the fact that Heavenly Father miraculously arranged for their rerouted destination. Three were not babies. They came to us at the ages of four, five and seven. Even speaking to them on the telephone, I instantly felt this same overwhelming love and emotion. Seeing them, it was ‘love at first sight.’”

“Having the privilege of presenting our first grandchild to the Lord, in front of our congregation, and blessing him hearkens back to Old Testament times,” said Church member Piero Mazzei of Elliot Lake, Ontario. “This was an opportunity to set Julian in the direction that leads to the Lord. He was blessed with promises of good health, a sound mind and a desire for learning. All these blessings and more will be his in connection with his faithfulness and with the teachings he receives.”

Nansen and Evelyn Smith, members of the Church in Newfoundland, say being grandparents is a wonderful and awe-inspiring job. “It’s so much fun and so important for our children and our grandchildren. … We feel it’s our work to cultivate their joy and encourage their curiosity, while protecting their innocence and vulnerability. Somewhere between the 1960s and now, our culture has determined that children and childhood are optional, but for us, building and nurturing family is a sacred responsibility that we relish and enjoy.”

Sharing family history stories, family traditions, their wisdom and love are some ways grandparents leave lasting impressions in the hearts and minds of their posterity.

Building and strengthening eternal family ties is the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Following His example and staying true to the principles He taught mark the path back to His presence.

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