The Wisdom Keepers

The Elders
oh how I can remember the times
when I would hear the stories,
the legends, the wisdom.
When we would revel in the Grandparents,
the Elders
those who held the stories
the visions
our memories
who wished for our futures,
who dreamed for us
and would laugh through
their trail of tears,
while encouraging our desires and reminding us of our roots, our foundations, of Creator
and kindness;
even when life had not been so kind.
I remember hearing how loved the little ones were, how much fun the grandbabies were, and how wonderful it was to care for, to spoil and love them,
and to know
“the best thing of grandbabies is knowing they will go home after a spell”!
Oh but we were loved.
Some of us were even blessed to grow up in intergenerational extended families
Everyone worked, played, prayed together.
Big families were the norm;
back in the day.
Before folks and families and times changed;
became fragmented when people struck out and left nests to make it on their own,
some far away as they can go,
others left for better opportunities.
But now?
The statistics are staggering.
all time high.
It is not the kids always doing the caring nor the giving.
That sandwich generation has many layers and textures.
Grandparents, Godparents, Kinships
are care-giving.
Intergenerational grief/loss/sorrow
also includes
and it is being done by grandparents;
mostly by the strong women truth be told, now the very same women who need care themselves are raising grandchildren.
It is remarkable to know the numbers, to know the reasons, to realize the depth of the issues and all that families led by matriarchs are going through day in and day out to keep some semblance of family and values, along with rich and culture history alive within their walls of a home.
Care-giving takes a remarkable toll on those providing care;
access to help, to services,  to support love and continued traditions are spread thin.
We see it in so many cultures, tribes, communities
as strong women stand up in spite of their own health problems, limited economic resources or emotional back ups.
The Elders are our history, they form our foundations … they have earned our respect; they teach us traditions and hold our dreams.
Those who never knew Grandparents, extended family miss so very much.
Yet, there are so many who now
are tending to the children of their children, the children of their siblings or neices and nephews,
in charge of new generations
secondary to a myriad of things, circumstances, sometimes bad choices and devastation.
These folks have raised their kids, have fostered their beginnings,
now ready and deserving of care themselves!
Yet, somehow they now are shouldering the responsibilites that are not or should not be theirs to shoulder
and doing it against all reason and all odds.  More often than not, this comes with great sacrifice to the Elders/Grandparents physically, spiritually/emotionally.
Take a drink of coffee or water
and just imagine
In the United States today, there are approximately 5.8 million grandparents living with a grandchild. Of that number, 2.4 million grandparents ­ mostly grandmothers ­ are the primary caregivers of grandchildren, providing for most of their basic needs when their own parents cannot or will not.
Some of those parents are not around, are incarcerated or have susbstance abuse issues
or have health issues, have died
or have been victimized
have just disappeared out of their childs life.
Who is caring for the care givers
or giving them support to care for those in today’s world of high risk behaviors and the world in today,
with such peer pressure,
demand, and need to be
while also balancing life, losses, stress and heartaches that are cumulative?
Grandparent Caregivers are usually defined as those who are residing with, or who are the primary guardian of their grandchildren younger than 18 years old (Jooste, 2007).  
Other commonly used terms include: custodial grandparents, kinship foster care, and grandparent-headed families. 
According to Jooste (2007), there are two major types of households found most prevalently in the research: “skipped generation households” and “three generation co-parenting households,” where the grandparent and grandchild co-reside without the parent or all three generations co-reside with the grandparent holding primary responsibility for the child, respectively; yet what we often find is that the grandparent is parenting the child and the grandchild!
Who cares for the caregiver?
The times have changed since our Grandparents sent us to the store for a bottle of pop and a pack of nabs…
We now have to wonder and worry
about what those kids are doing;
synthetic drugs are killing people daily!
We have to worry about peer pressure like never before, about mini-marts selling things that are marked “not for human consumption” but everyone now knows that is exactly its purpose.
OK, let me correct myself
Grandparents and Elders have no idea what those kids are out doing, and need awareness on these issues; they don’t know what they don’t know.
They have no idea when those kids they are raising go out the door if they will pick up what is now known as  K2, Spice, Cloud 9,
Bath Salts,
along with beer and wine
 for the next high on the streets or in the car of a friend,
and the next fatal synthetic drug overdose.
Grandparents are not always the Elders you see pictured here,
they are often younger, still working, and busy trying to keep things all together, and yet
they are caring for their kids children, teens, little ones.
Houses are full, time is short,
and awareness is not
known in cities or small towns
where the stakes are high
and expectations have become lowered as a result of continual disappointments and hard knocks along the way.
Many don’t know that this crap can kill who are aware, so how do we expect grandparents to be up to date with all this, particularly in rural America?
Many kids now search first for their party drugs in the medicine cabinets at home;
where many Grandparents have a wealth and steady stock of prescription medications and would not dare to think that their precious grandchild or adult child could be using….
In Native American communities
inter-generational grief/loss/trauma is ingrained; it has been lived so long that it is hard to think that help is available to folks who are used to trauma.
The grandparents there who are mostly women have lived through trails of tears, through boarding schools and trauma, loss, rape.
Places where alcholism, poverty, unemployment is the highest of anywhere in the country,
now are raising the grandkids and their great-nieces and nephews or the neighbors children and trying to teach them the red road;
yet without means or support,
or awareness and education
to feel empowered
and thanked for all they have survived.
There are circles and cycles of sorrow and fear and detachment and shame
yet these Elders stand up forsaking their own dreams and health to take on responsibilites that are not theirs and attempt to take care of others.
The toll of caregiving is enormous
and where is the gratitude to our
We must remember the Ancestors, the Elders
the attitude of great gratitude
that we walk
for they are
the Wisdom Keepers.
The health is important, their stories are vital,
their wellbeing is critical to the future generations.
It should come as no surprise that the word health has the word
HEAL in it.
We must take time to HEAL the wounds of the past in order to care for the now of our world and those living in it.
We must pay attention in order to be better stewards to those who are caregivers in order for them to feel validated on their journey with hope in healing ways.
Our candles remain lit
for our
young warrior Thomas O’Brien
and his beautiful Mom Debbie Koenig, who cares so lovingly for him as only a Mom can do.
Thomas has decided
no more prodding, sticking, appointments. He is at home in the comfort of his bed, his Mom’s arms and his beloved 4 legged Seamus
surrounded by those thousands that continue to send him messages and love,
lighting candles and prayers and thoughts …
walk in Beauty

21 comments on “The Wisdom Keepers

  1. […] The Wisdom Keepers(drses.wordpress.com) Share this:FacebookLinkedInEmailPrint This entry was posted on June 10, 2012, in Family and tagged Cancer, Death, family, generation, Grandparent, grief, life cycle, mourning, parents, sister. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment […]

  2. Thank you ALL,
    for taking the time to share your thoughts here today…

    I appreciate hearing from each of you, and YES, I do read all and thank YOU..

    have an idea you want to discuss?

    Let me hear from you!

    blessings on the suns rays to each of you…

  3. Congratulations. I have awarded you the Illuminating Blogger Award. You have a wonderful blog. You can read more about and find the award on my page here: http://workthedream.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/the-illuminating-blogger-award-and-the-one-lovely-blog-award

  4. Thank you for your enlightenment and Precious pictures. Such words of Wisdom! Makes a hard row to hoe for grandparents. It is a vicious cycle.

  5. Thank you for your enlightenment and Precious pictures. Such words of Wisdom. Makes a hard row to hoe for grandparents. It is a vicious cycle.

  6. hellooooo.
    once more, a straight up take on a overlooked and serious
    issue facing our world.. seems as if a huge gap in accountabilty and
    resposibilty exists.. sadly. The children have become victims as well as
    the ‘wisdom keepers’.. Bless those elders who step up each day, unselfishly
    giving their best efforts to to right for their familes..
    I cannot imagine having to raise another family , especially in times of
    ill health, financial stress and of senior age.
    Thanks DRSES for thought provoking and truthful words.
    Surely gives us something to think about..
    Blessings to all, and prayers and candlelight to Thomas and his Mom, Debbie.
    Standing and STOMPING here..
    sign me, hugging my angels,

  7. hellooooo..
    sitting here today, sunshine is
    trying to break out ..
    so much rain these past few days
    that the grass seems to have grown
    a foot..
    Thoughts today are provoking,
    the statistics are mind boggling.
    In this time of socio/economic chaos, family structures have taken on a new look for sure.
    I. as well. have met a lot of
    wisdom keepers who are worn out
    and weary from having the resposibilties upon them of raising the next generation..
    somewhere along the line a huge gap has formed ..
    I cannot imagine myself in the
    position of raising another family.
    Many elders , as you've said, do not have the help, health or
    financial means to do so and yet
    they have no options..
    Thanks for the eye opener, once again you are “keeping it real.
    Wishing the best to all, and
    saying special prayers for all
    our warriors who are struggling.
    counting my many blessings,
    hugging my angels ♥
    sign me, A.

  8. Greetings on the wind friends. Doc this has to be one of the best blogs you have ever written. The words are so true and it is sad that the Wisdom keepers are no longer respected like they should be.
    Greetings to all here and prayers for all. Hope all are doing ok.
    Hugs on the wind

  9. Beautifully said Sherry and so true. I saw this back when I was teaching. Grandparents raising the children…some grandparents that hobbled on crutches and could barely get around with four or five children under the age of ten that they were tending. As always you lead the charge on things so important. hugs to you my friend. Prayers for Thomas and his Mother. Yes, there comes a time when the patient knows..it is time to enjoy the loved ones without all the prodding and sticking. I send prayers and hugs on the wind to them too. Hugs

  10. Beautifully said Sherry and so true. I saw this back when I was teaching. Grandparents raising the children…some grandparents that hobbled on crutches and could barely get around with four or five children under the age of ten that they were tending. As always you lead the charge on things so important. hugs to you my friend. Prayers for Thomas and his Mother. Yes, there comes a time when the patient knows..it is time to enjoy the loved ones without all the prodding and sticking. I send prayers and hugs on the wind to them too. Hugs

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment today… and for your words and thoughts…. I appreciate you.

      Yes we join our fires for Thomas and Debbie and light the way for the journey now, in thoughts prayers, tears and triumphs as we STAND BY AND WITH THEM…

      Many blessings to you always. drsherry

  11. Good morning to all. Your words of wisdom this morning has really hit home. I know some of the caring and giving you are talking about. I have family members who are needy and working and trying so hard to make ends meet. I know the feeling when you ask if I can help, some say yes and others say when I need it I will let you know. I do not have grandchildren but I do have some nephews that are as close if not closer than their grandparent. I usually can tell when a person is in need and I volunteer to help with no strings attached or no reminding the person that I did this or that. There are so many people whose life is so only about themselves and not about the family that is in need. The material things are so important to some. I believe in helping when needed. I think the Lord that I am able at times to lend a helping hand. My parents did not have a whole lot but they did have a big family. There was lots of love and very few ugly words said or done. Now the family has gone down to very few. It is sad, so sad people do not see the needs of others. You are again so right about the care giving. That care giving is in so many ways. Loving and giving to help one who is struggling to have a better childhood and life than maybe what was in their life. The prayers and candles are still burning for dear sweet Thomas and Debbie. MY arms are reaching out to send you many hugs and love. Blessings to all. Thank you Dr. Sherry and may God Bless You Always.

  12. Thank you Dr. Sherry for your words and message today. We need to remember to care for and about the caregivers. So many are forgotten. Prayers for Thomas, his Mom Debbie and Seamus, Ali and her Father and EE. Wishing all here a peaceful Friday as you count your Blessings. /Sandy♥

  13. I couldn’t have said it better. What a strength building blog. Thank you Dr. Sherry for moving forward and leading.

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