The Important Role Of Grandparents In The Family Even When They’re Deceased

My Grandfather Martin McElligott andGrandmother Mary Crosby
My Great Grandmother Annie Reddan (nee McElligott and Slattery)

Today is the feast of Jesus grandparents St.Anne and Joachim. I don’t exactly know what role they played in Jesus life. Could they have been alive or dead by the time he’d come of age and enjoy them? I don’t know. Alive or dead all grandparents play a vital role in the lives of all their grandchildren and I’ll explain why.

Their DNA is something we share and for this reason, not only how we look but how we behave usually descends from that. Our likes, dislikes, health problems and all the good and bad transfer to us. Not everyone is proud of their grandparents. Maybe they had been short tempered, gamblers even those who’d got involved in criminal behaviour. At the end of the day, whatever it was they engaged in, they are family and because we are Christian we must learn to let go of the negative image we had of them when alive.

I never knew my grandfather. He died when I was 3 years old and my grandmother died when I was 10 years old. I didn’t know my grandfather or grandmother on my mothers side as both died both before and shortly after I was born. I spent at lot of time with Mary as a child and was never out of her house. My grandfather Martin was the son of a fisherman. In fact, the whole of the McElligott family fished the Shannon river for nearly 200 years. His father died when he was only 30 years old from the consumption (TB).

Annie (his mother) was then left with only one child and two years later married another man who whom she went on to have many children with only a few surviving such were the times. When he came of age, my grandfather left his home city and was stationed in my town as a soldier where he met my grandmother. He then went AWOL and joined the British army to fight in world war II. He was part of the first ever SAS team then known as SOS. Back then it was a group of 12 men that went behind enemy lines on missions of sabotage.

He came home from the war a very short tempered man, drank a lot, gambled, and was a very frugal type of person. Whatever image my family tend to paint of him, I like to cling to what he did contribute to society. He fought a very dirty war against a German empire that wanted to eradicate Jewish people and take over the world to put mildly. Along with his comrades he liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

He spoke about how skinny they all were and that the shower rooms where they gassed them had bodies built in a pyramid. He explained how they were all naked and thought they were taking a shower, but when the gas came they all climbed on top of one another to get some air. This created a mound of naked bodies in the form of a sort of pyramid.

He often spoke of the sad reality having to kill young boys no older than 18 with some Hitler youth being as young as 16 years old possibly younger. Other stories he told related to special operations behind enemy lines and running Swords beach at Normandy. It wasn’t difficult to imagine why he came home so hot tempered and was fond of the drink and bit of gambling. In addition to this he had to put up with some small minded cowardly types who often picked fights with him for joining the British army.

He had just helped defeat one of the greatest threats not just to Britain but the whole of Europe and that was the thanks he got for it. Speaking about his meanness my father said, “You don’t understand. Other people got nice Dads, we ended up with Hitler himself. He was very hard on us.”

I explained that he went and risked his life to put food on your table. He came home from Japan with malaria and you helped him get through it. He taught you how to shoot a gun, how to hunt, how to street fight. He taught you how to interact and deal with a very dangerous world giving you some valuable advice and insight, right? “right” my Dad said. “But somehow he’s still a big bad man, right?” “Perhaps not so after all” was the response.

These memories of my grandfather handed to me by my father has meant that, even though deceased, he continues to play a vital role in my life. His positive attributes have afforded me the ability to take life by the horns and run the beaches of my spiritual world and be tough. Whenever I’m feeling the weight of the demons on my shoulders, I think of my grandfathers adrenaline as he ploughed through all the dead bodies on the beaches of Normandy and ran for his life. I saw him pick himself up and run so I do the same in my spiritual battles.

Likewise his negative attitudes have helped give me an understanding of the certain things I need to avoid in my life. I must try not to be hot tempered, to avoid drinking to excess and not to gamble my life away. You know how I know he and his mother Annie still play an active role in my life even though they’re deceased? When I was doing my ancestry tree last year, I looked up his birth record. His birthday was the 25th of September 1919.

When I told my father we should go to the city where his Dad was born for the experience he agreed to come. I didn’t realize it until much after the fact, but guess what day we headed down? On the 25th of September, my grandfathers birthday. To add more spookiness that Christmas I had a dream of a graveyard and church spire in the distance. In the dream I turn to see the entrance to the graveyard and I’m looking for my Great grandmother Annies grave.

I go down just a few weeks ago and the exact same thing in my dream was what I experienced. The same identical graveyard wall and church spire in the distance. The exact same as the dream. You mean to say they don’t play a role in our lives when they’re dead? my encounter with my grandfather and the dream I had of his mother means I have to disagree.

The important role grandparents play in our lives doesn’t end with this world, it carries on into the next. Not just grandparents, but great grandparents and great great great great grandparents. Provided they’re safe in the hands of God they’re watching over all of us. My journey eventually led me to the castle of my grandfather Ulick from the 1500s. They are all looking out for me, just as yours are looking out for you. Pray for them, have masses said for them. Remember that they will always be by your side. . . always.

They’re watching you, and they want you to change your lives around. When alive they were always concerned about your physical well being, but now that they’re dead, they are scared and very much concerned about your spiritual well being and eternal abode. Don’t disappoint them. Pray for them and honor their approach to you by going to confession and Mass.

God bless all the grandparents.


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