Take time to visit your grandparents


My family with my Nana, Christina Olga Balensuela, 79, was excited to have attended their first high school graduation in 2009.

As a college student I go about my day wondering when is the next time I will be able to eat, what homework I need to finish, what club meetings I need to attend or if I am going to be able to take a nap when I get home. I am always on the go and I rarely have the time to think about my Nana let alone call or pay her a visit.

However, giving my Nana a call or visiting her should be part of my daily schedule. My Nana, Christina Olga Balensuela, 79, is a retired military widow who stays at home unless she needs to go to the doctor or to the grocery store. I am a 20-year-old college student that wants adventure outside of my demanding school schedule. When I first started to try and call her, we wanted to rip each other heads off because of the unique culture we both were living; little did I know that adventure, like going shopping and eating, is exactly what my Nana wanted as well.

Before I moved to Kauaʻi in 1994, I was attached to the hip with my Nana. She babysat me while my parents worked and spoiled me rotten. When she did have the time to visit us during the holidays, it was hard for me to watch her leave. I wanted to be everywhere she was but as a five year old, I did not have enough money to fly from Kauaʻi to Oʻahu. When I started attending Chaminade University in the fall of 2009, I didn’t have a car or the patience to ride The Bus to visit my Nana in Waipahu regularly. But now that she has offered me to use her car, with the exception of driving her to her doctor appointments, I have been visiting my Nana every Sunday since August 2011. It has been a transition for the both of us but one worth taking the risk for.

My Nana has lived around the world with my grandpa in places such as California, Arizona, Texas, France and China. She had experienced many heart-breaking life events that eventually played a part in her heart attack in 2001. She was put on heart medication and has since got a stent put into her artery to help the blood flow better. She has recently found out that she doesn’t need to take her heart pills any more and her doctor says it is because her stress levels have gone down significantly and because she is having fun.

By taking my Nana out to go shopping and most importantly eat awesome food every week for almost a year, I have helped her concentrate on fun things rather than dwell on her past and what she could be doing. By giving her six hours of my week and actually answering her phone calls, I have given her the opportunity to be herself again instead of consumed by her five different medications and television.

Although many of us may be far away from their grandparents during the school year, we should still make time to regularly talk on the phone with them. Whether we want to believe it or not, our grandparents are very proud of us. They want to be apart of our life just as much as our parents, friends, boyfriend and girlfriends want to. Our grandparents have supported and loved us from the time we were still sleeping in our mother’s tummy. They have tried to be there for our first everything and they want to ultimately love and support us as we make them a first time great-grandparent.

It is never to late to re-create a relationship with our grandparents. Just as they are standing by and prepared to do anything for us, we should be willing to do the same for them.

“ʻOhana means family and family means nobody gets left behind,” said Lilo in the Disney movie “Lilo and Stitch”. Our grandparents are part of our family too, don’t leave them behind.

Go ahead and start making time in your schedule for your grandparents. Make their day by giving them a call.