Wendy McHaney writes a column about senior and elderly issues for the Victoria Advocate.

My oldest child just started her senior year of high school, so we are in full college application mode at our house.

An essential part of every application is the essay, and my daughter started working on hers last spring and has rewritten it numerous times. Essay topics tend to involve life-altering events, lessons learned from obstacles and/or accomplishments.

After another meeting with her high school guidance counselor last week, she was advised that she has too many topics in her essay and needs to narrow it to just the one that has had the most impact on her. She also needs to somehow tie it in with ballet since this has played a major role in her life. This was new; she hadn’t written anything about ballet in any of the other essays.

On Sunday morning, she and I talked about the topics in her previous essays, and I told her to pick the one that she felt the strongest about. To my surprise, she returned with a new essay about 30 minutes later.

It was by far the best one she had written, and it was clear that it came from her heart. She commented that this one had also been the easiest to write. She wrote about her grandfather’s rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s and how dance has been a welcomed escape from the stresses of high school life, but since school and dance demanded so much of her time, she failed to realize that her grandfather’s disease was progressing so quickly and regretted not spending more time with him, especially before he stopped recognizing her.

Numerous studies show the benefits of having grandparents involved in the lives of their grandchildren. Emotional intelligence has been found to be more important than IQ in attaining success in life and career, and time spent with grandparents dramatically improves emotional understanding.

Also, grandparents who are involved in the lives of their grandchildren live longer. Reading my daughter’s essay made me understand how much her grandfather has impacted her life and how fortunate she is to have grown up in the town where her grandparents live.

My daughter tries to visit her grandfather more often now, and she seems to have gotten past the initial pain of him failing to know her. At her last visit, she held his hand while telling him about the events of her week. He asked her to please keep talking because he doesn’t like the quiet. He also asked her if he was holding her hand right and she told him, “You could never hold my hand wrong.”

Sources: “Children Grow up Happier with Grandparents by their Side,” newsroom.clevelandclinic.org

Wendy McHaney is a certified senior adviser and the owner and director of operations of Senior Helpers. For more information about Senior Helpers, visit seniorhelpers.com/victoria.

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(1) comment

Pat Tally

Thanks for sharing your daughter’s experience. Compassion is learned.

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