Caroline Tison


Grandparents help shape who you are

Is one or more of your grandparents alive?

If you answer yes to this question, you are one of the lucky ones.  And don’t forget it.  I lost all four of my grandparents, the last one passing away more than 15 years ago, when I was 26.  I was at my friend’s grandmother’s wake this week and it made me think of my grandparents.

Each of them had an impact on me and helped shape who I am today. My mother’s mom had a stroke the year before I was born and never regained her speech. Because we couldn’t have a dialogue, per se, with her, my brother and I spent many hours monkeying around trying to make her laugh. To this day, I love making people laugh and love the challenge of “cracking that tough nut.”

My mother’s dad was a little grumpy, but oh so generous. He gave the shirt off his back more than once, volunteered in his community and gave so much to those in need. I would say I get my charitable streak from him. And maybe my grumpy side when things don’t seem to quite align the way I would like them to be. (Ha!)

My father’s dad was a nature lover, very handy and very conscientious. He always took the time to show us how to properly do something.  “If you’re going to do it, do it right.”  This is a motto I follow. And it has served me well. It really is a shame that we lost him to Alzheimer’s, much to early I must add.

My father’s mom was my favourite. Ever since she took me in her arms the very first days of my life, there was a special unbreakable bond. I could stay snuggled up to her forever.  The texture of her skin, her smell; it made me feel so safe. She was a straight arrow. And yes, although it pains me at times to admit it, I am quite a stickler for rules and order.

But what really pains me is the feeling that I have taken their presence for granted. That I acted like they would be around forever. I didn’t fully appreciate the fact that our time together would be so brief. What I wouldn’t  give now to hug my grandmother again or share a laugh with her. But it’s too late for me.

I would love to hear about how your grandparents have helped shape who you are today, or what is your favourite memory of them.  And if you are one of the lucky ones, what sort of things do you like to do with them? Or what do you like to talk to them about?


  1. HI Caro,
    I can relate to what you are saying. I had all four grandparents until 8 years old , when my grandfather died of cancer after a three year battle. He was graceful and in the end couldn’t walk but played board games with us tirelessly. Looking back now i realize he must have been in pain but never showed it.
    I was lucky enough to have my remaining three grandparents at my wedding and to see the birth of my three children. I also felt ,like you, that they would live forever. Alas its human nature and there is so much more I would have liked to know but never got around to asking. It has taught me, however, to love the family that I have with me now more carefully. We are all on borrowed time and should try to live with that in mind.

  2. By Caroline Tison

    Hello Rhonda
    Thanks for sharing. You are absolutly right. The time we have here is finite. But I am realizing that the only ones who can control the time passing by, is us. We each have the power to make choices about how we spend our time. Maybe we should think twice about how we spend the hours of our days. Maybe instead of watching 2 hours of reality tv we could pick up the phone, or better yet, visit someone we wish to spend time with. And tell them that they matter to us.

  3. By Vera Tavares

    My sisters and brother were blessed enough to have both grandparents, from my mother’s and from my father’s side so close to us- we were neighbours! – , showing us the importance of love , respect and sharing, playing with us and even seeing us becoming parents. Happy and wonderful memories that will be with us for the rest of our lives. Now, as a grandmother, I really feel and wish I could return to my young kids as much as I received from them, or at least, a bit. With grandparents you really learn / understand what ‘unconditional love’ to its full extent means; they’re angels to guide and protect us.

    • By Caroline Tison

      Hello Vera,
      From reading your comment and insights, ther’s no doubt in my mind that you are that angel to your grandchildren. They are indeed lucky to benefit from your unconditional love and guidance. It’s really funny how the relationship of a child with one’s grandparents is so different than the relationshipo we have with our parents. Maybe it has to do with the “wisdom ” factor that a grandparent acquires over time… or an “unwritten job description” that grandparents can take all the good and fun “jobs” and leave out the more tedious ones…

  4. Hi Caroline,
    Your story made me smile. I am fortunate enough that all 4 of my grandparents are still alive. I am not very close to my father’s parents, but my mother’s parents are a whole other story. My grandmother on my moms side does not live in Montreal but we do see her every year or two and makes the time we all spend together that much more special, since there is a lot of planning and saving involved. There are endless coffees and teas and lots of nostalgia on my grandmothers part to see her children and grandchildren all in the same room. I lived with my mom and my grandfather (her father) until I was 21. Living with and being raised by a grandparent makes you see a whole different side of life. You learn to appreciate their wisdom, and when they teach you life lessons, it’s definetly from experience! lol My grandpa is my biggest fan and supporter, always laughs at my (maybe not so funny) jokes, and loves to hear about what I have been up to. I hope one day I will be a great grandparent like him. There’s no better feeling than popping in to see him un announced or calling him (at 6 am, on my way to work!) and to hear how excited he is just to hear my voice.

    Not everyone is so lucky to be able to have relationships with grandparents, but we really are :) I’m so happy for you that you had these experiences!

  5. By Caroline Tison

    Hello Krystle,
    Thanks for sharing how you have been (and continue!) to be touched by your grandparents. Lucky you! You made me realize that we were so lucky to have them live in the same city as us. I cannot imagine having to wait so long to see ones grandparents! Please say hello to them from me! :)

  6. Hello C aroline,
    I too loved your story. The one about your grandmother who had a stroke, though, reminided me of my great-grandmother, who I had until about 8. She, too, had a sroke and couldn’t talk but athough there wasn’t the laughter involved I do remember spending lots of time visiting her in the nursing home with my mother and grandmother. I feel those early experiences helped prepare me later on for taking care of them both when they needed it. It meant so much to me for my uncle to commend me so highly for how well I did with “his mother”; well, she was my grandmother, who was the one who sat with me when I was a little girl and was sick and wound up in the hospital; duh! She lived the next town over and I still remember hopping on the old Greyhound and coming down where since we lived right on the route, it would let her off right at our driveway. Loved it! loved this

    • By Caroline Tison

      Hi Donna! Just read your comment. So sorry to have missed it. Thanks for your story, it is very touching. GRandparents and great aunts are so special. They wisdom, this calming effect about them. Caroline

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