Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Every family tree has its own unique makeup. Generally the family tree is made up of parents, grandparents, great grandparents, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins.

When we are babies our entire world revolves around our parents (mostly mothers) who take care of our every need. We look up to them as our heroes. As we continue to grow our siblings play an important role, as we live with them full time. In each stage of our lives our circles of influence change and we are shaped by different experiences, and friendships. At a certain age we feel as if we know everything, and don’t need any help, definitely not from our parents. We turn to our friends and feel as if we are the smartest people. Our parents and surely our grandparents are considered prehistoric and out of date to what is happening in our world.

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The older and wiser that we get the more we realize that those prehistoric parents and grandparents are not as out of date as we thought. As we mature we turn to our parents more often. We value their opinion even more than that of our friends. We ourselves have become parents, (and even grandparents) and now we realize how precious and smart they truly are.

As a parent, I can share my thoughts on a few levels. I realize that a lot of my behavior as a child is now coming back at me in all sorts of ways. I was blessed with 8 children and every one of them challenges me in ways that I challenged my parents.

I am also a grandparent and the situation is very different. It is a blessing of love and joy to be a grandparent. The hard work of teaching and rebuking with a firm hand is now out of our dictionary. A grandparent is there to give love and acceptance, a wise word and a listening heart and a helping hand. My grandparents were such an inspiration to me. I just wish I would have appreciated them even more before they were gone, as I would have gained even more than I did from them. I try to be there for my grandchildren. And as I get older, I am so much more aware of every day that passes. The young feel as if they will live forever and getting old seems so far away. But life has a way of moving along faster than we imagined. I want to impress upon my grandchildren how fortunate they are to be growing up with a grandparent and great grandparents. I want them to feel the closeness in our relationship which differs from their closeness with their parents. My grandchildren are the next generation, my continuation. The more I am able to give to them, the better they will be for it, and someday pass on to their grandchildren what they received.

It’s like having a garden. We plant seeds that eventually become trees and we want to make sure that our garden stays green forever. The more we nourish our relationship with each generation, we are preserving our “garden” for life. This is of course also true in holy and spiritual matters. The more we dedicate ourselves to give time and attention, the stronger our roots will be. All of us are very busy and unless we make time to invest in our ‘garden’, we won’t get the results we hope for. It won’t happen by itself. The next generation will be born, but the way they grow up physically, emotionally and spiritually has so much to do with the time we invest in them. The younger generation does not have the maturity and wisdom to realize how lucky they are to have grandparents that are alive. We have to plant those seeds within them. And after 120 when we leave this world we will know that we did all in our power to make sure that the next generation will do the same for their children and grandchildren and thereby keep the beautiful family tree blooming.

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