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How Do I Converse with my 103 YO Grandma


#1

I’m accompanying my dad on a trip to rural Illinois to see my 103 year old grandma who although in declining health is still very much “there” mentally. It’s a painfully awkward situation for me and I’m sure her also because we don’t really know each other and have absolutely nothing to talk about. I’ve only seen her a few times in my life spaced many years apart, but she still sends birthday and Christmas cards every year and has old pictures of me all over her apartment. I think she’s looking forwards to our departure so she can go back to her elderly peers.

My strategy is to limit myself to a few hours a day in her presence and focus on work the rest of the time. For those few hours I need something to talk about. So far I’ve asked her some questions about her childhood, ancestors, prohibition, WW2, the Great Depression, and life on the farm, which got her talking for a while. History and ancestors/relatives are pretty much the only things I can think of. I’m genuinely interested in my grandpa, who died about 40 years ago, but I don’t want to upset her. I’ve got two days left and need more material. Throw me some ideas.


#2

To be honest, you sound like a shitty grandkid.

How old are you? You’ve been on this site ages, but talk like a little shit.

I’ve known four grandparents who lived to be over 100 and enjoyed every time I saw them. Even my 82 year old grandma now, I call every two weeks. Shit just listening to how they were raised and asking what their parents, siblings, etc did/what they were like.

EDIT: Jesus man, stop editing your post.


#3

My grandparents didn’t talk about the old days much. My wifes grandfather does a little. He glows when he talks about driving to Alabama and meeting her grandmother.

I just try to imagine a time when driving a car somewhere was a huge adventure.

Maybe ask her about the first time she rode in a car or took a trip in one.


#4

If I wanted to talk to my grandma I’d need a shovel.


#5

You wrote that she has pictures of you all over the apartment. I could accept the letters and such as courtesy, but the pictures suggest that she’s interested in you as her grandchild.

Why do you think she’s looking forward to your departure? How can you tell when you rarely interact with her?


#6

Read to her -newspapers, book she’d like etc


#7

Can admin delete my account

This thread is the last straw. I’m out


#8

I think the problem here is that you are assuming that your Grandma wants to talk about ‘old stuff’ & maybe YOU do as well but…that isn’t necessarily the case at all…some old folks absolutely love to bang on about ‘the war’ etc while others really don’t, they’d quite possibly prefer to talk about their grandson and current affairs etc (older people can be brilliant people to ask about current affairs because they’ve lived through so much so they can see how certain supposedly new ideas aren’t new or good at all and also how absolutely shitty certain things used to be in the past compared to how they are now etc).

So, my advice is basically: STOP looking at you GM as an unapproachable fossil, have an open mind about what she might want to talk about and just glow with the flow!


#9

x2

I think it’s cool to spend at least some time asking someone that old about “the old days” because the first-hand memories of those times will die with that generation, and it is really neat to hear at least some of that. But after a while, she might well also want to talk about your life. Maybe before she heads off to the grave, you could share a little about your life - she may be genuinely interested in what her grandson is like. What are your hobbies? Are you married or engaged? Is there a fun story behind it?

I was incredibly fortunate to have all four grandparents live for my entire teenage years, college years, and into my 20’s. Three of the four made it to my wedding and 30th birthday (and are still alive today). When I see them, they mostly want to ask what’s going on in my life. They get excited about every little thing - new car, moving apartments, new job, etc. So maybe start with a little about yourself and see if she perks up & asks some questions.


#10

Exactly!


#11

She’s around 103 years old, so she was born around the start of WW1. She would have been in her 20s during the great depression - in many ways not so different from where we are (or heading depending on who you talk too). Maybe ask her what she thinks of everything going on.

But at one point in time she was young like you and did fun things. The problem is getting old sucks - youre tired, everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt is falling apart. My dad is in his late 60s and he isn’t taking it well even though he swims a few times a week. So maybe just engage her like a normal person?

And FWIW my grandma was a brilliant woman right up until the day she died. Loved talking to her. My grandfather passed away when I was 17 but he did some cool stuff in WW2 - he was a scout.


#12

The youngest person I work with is 74. Just ask her what she thinks of Trump. She will have an opinion one way or another. :wink:


#13

You could just talk to her about current stuff like a normal person. Just because she is 103 doesn’t mean you need to limit your talks to pre WW2.


#14

She probably only knows about steam engines and knitting. So just talk about those two things. Get a few books, preferably reference books (because of the index) so you can keep the good conversation flowing.


#15

I’d tell her about all the ass I was getting


#16

When I started dating after my marriage ended my romance-writer friend, age 82 at the time, asked me about condoms. “Oh yeah,” I said, “I guess I should carry one with me, huh?”

She said “You’ll want at least two.”

Age 82.


#17

Funniest thing about my gram- Every few years she would crack a joke that would knock the whole family out of their chairs. It was killer. You wait two or three years for one then just forget about it, and as soon as you do-Pow!


#18

Just talk about a bunch of racist shit. That’s always fun to do with the older folks. :grin:

When I talk to elderly people I try to remember that I am staring into a mirror. We will all be there some day (hopefully). They just want to shoot the shit and laugh like the rest of us. Don’t over think it.


#19

My grandmother was really funny, too, as well as occasionally shocking, though she never talked to me about condoms. I had an elderly client who started coming in for depression after losing her husband. After a while she was coming in just to chat, mostly about the crazy shit she saw on TV. “Can you believe that?” was a line she said regularly, about whatever random trend caught her attention. I can’t think of any examples offhand, but she was curious about pretty much everything and very bright. I know we’d be talking politics if she was still coming in to see me. And I’d be like, no, I can’t fucking believe it, any of it. lol


#20

Not much else to add which hasn’t already been stated above. All I know is my grandmother is in her 80’s and lives thousands of miles away in the middle east. I wish she lived state side so I could visit her every week. These people are a link to the past that won’t be around for much longer. Its even crazier when you think how much has changed in the last 100 years. The changes your grand mother has seen. Its insane. All I know is I wouldn’t be on a forum online asking people what should talk to her about. I mean women couldn’t even vote when she was born. Blacks and pretty much anyone not white christian were second class citizens. She survived the 1918 flu pandemic. I mean right there is at least a whole day of conversation. If you want to pay for my ticket I would be happy to come up and chat with her while you focused on work.