“They Call Me Grandma” – Guest post by Elsi Dodge

Elsi with Bianca after visiting David in jail.

Elsi with Bianca after visiting David in jail.

I’m single, divorced. No children, no grandchildren. A quarter-century of special needs students, all of whom I consider “mine,” plus the teens in my church youth group. Not to mention a dog and a cat, whom I consider my family.

On Saturdays, I lead a homeless outreach in Boulder, Colorado—we provide a safe place off the streets and out of the weather, along with a Christian message and music, a high-quality hot meal (our cook is a homeless chef), and fellowship. Over the months, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the regular guests.

Dave is young, with curly hair and sparkling eyes. We chatted chat idly about the menu, and one day he and his girlfriend started volunteering to help man the appetizer table or call names from the clothing distribution list.

Then he said, “You remind me of my grandma! Do you want to do that cheek thing?”

“Uh …”

“Grandma always did it! I hated it! Do you want to?”

“I can if you want me to …”

He turned his cheek to me, and I poked it as if making a dimple.

“No! Not like that! You should pinch the cheek! I hate it!” he told me, grinning.

So I gently pinched a fold of his cheek, commenting, “My grandma used to spit on her handkerchief to wash my face.”

“Yeah, that’s gross!”

About half an hour later, he was back, turning his head so his cheek was reachable.

“Wanna do it again?”

So I pinched his cheek again, a bit baffled by the whole exchange.

“Hey, Bianca! This here’s my new grandma!” he called.

“Hi, Grandma!” she responded happily.

We played this game for several weeks. Occasionally I would use both hands, one for each cheek.

“Oh, Grandma! You’re so funny!”

After a few weeks when I didn’t see them (the homeless population is pretty mobile, especially when the weather is fine), Bianca showed up again, alone.

“David’s in jail,” she told me. “He wants his grandma to come visit him.”

O—kay … I suppose that’s in the range of grandma responsibilities … but if this grandma-thing is going to be a real relationship, then I must also have the privilege and responsibility of praying for David and Bianca, keeping track of them after our outreach closes for the summer, and bringing them something fun from my next trip in the RV.

I know my granny loved me … maybe I can pass some of that love on to Bianca and David!

 ~ ~ ~

RV Tourist by Elsi Dodge

RV Tourist by Elsi Dodge

Elsi Dodge contributed the story “Let them Come” to Grandparenting Through Obstacles. She drives a 30-foot RV in her travels with a beagle and a cat for companions. She is the author of RV Tourist: Tips, Tools, and Stories, a handy guide for those wishing to travel by RV as well as entertaining stories from her own travels. Learn more on her web site at http://www.rvtourist.com/rvtourist.php.


Thursday Interview: Contributor Elsi Dodge


Elsi Dodge has written her own books, including RV Tourist: Tips, Tools, and Stories and stacles, Elsi wrote the story of Anne Agovino. Recently, Elsi visited with us a bit.

GTO:   Why did you decide to share the story that you did in our book?

Elsi:  My own grandmother (Mother’s mother) was such an important part of my life, and I continually find myself in awe of my friend Anne’s grandparenting. With grandchildren of varying ages, both blood and by love, all wanting attention from Anne and Frank, they have developed wonderful ways of touching each child individually.

GTO:  What are you hoping our readers will gain or learn from your story?

Elsi: That there are no limits, no walls, no required structure for sharing love and faith with children.

GTO:  What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by children today, and how can grandparents help them with this challenge?

Elsi: I’m a teacher (public school, private school, tutor, Sunday school). Children today crave stability—the surety that someone who loves them will continue to love them, no matter what. The certainty that love and family, and the Lord, will “never leave nor forsake” them. Parents divorce; families move to other places; life has a hectic pace. Grandparents—especially through technology such as Skype—can be a stable and comforting presence through life’s vicissitudes. Regular contact, little traditions, cards and notes through snail mail, emailed photos, photo memory books, stories about “when your dad was your age,” stories about “when you were little”—kids need these! (Hey, we all do!)

GTO:  What can you tell our readers to encourage them to not give up on their kids or grandkids no matter how bad their situation might look?

Elsi:  God doesn’t give up on us! You can keep loving, keep acting in agape love, keep praying. Look at David—murderer, adulterer … yet a man after God’s own heart.

GTO:  What advice can you give our readers to help them become more intentional about imparting spiritual truths and values into their grandchildren?

Elsi:  If you don’t, who will? Teach it, preach it, walk it, live it, share it, discuss it, never act shocked or rejecting, model God’s love in all you do.

GTO:   Didn’t you recently take a trip to Israel? Tell us about that.

Elsi: I visited Israel this spring with a group from church. It was never even on a wish list, but the Lord put it together for me, and it was a life-changing experience (cliché, but absolutely true!). In an old photo album, I found a picture of Granny in 1964 on the Mount of Olives, in a skirt and elbow-length gloves (of all things!). Since I just turned 65 and therefore inherited the principal of her estate, she paid for my trip. I asked the tour guide to take my picture in the same place, to build continuity for me. Nobody could have planned for that connection, but it’s a solid one.

My point? You never know what will make a lasting impression on your grandchildren. Enjoy them!

GTO:  What an awesome story, Elsi. Thank you for sharing it. I appreciate how you share the stories of your life.

And thank you stopping by today.  I know I’ll look forward to reading more of your stories about your travels and your life.