Everyone tells you before your first child is born that your life is about to change and will never be the same again. In fact, they tell you so often that you get sick of hearing it and almost determine that it won't happen to you—except something tells you it will, somehow or other, and it does. You instantly know a love like no other, one so deep and intense it nearly scares you. Everyone was right after all.
I don't think anyone ever told me that about grandparenting. They should have. It hits you like a train too, just as it does parents, but in a slightly different way. After all, parents are on the local train, and grandparents get the express, especially if they live a ways off. You see those precious souls in bits and pieces and have to cram years of influence into days. If you get the wonderful chance to babysit while mom and dad are out of town and get to pretend they are actually yours, not just for an hour or two, but for a few days—grandparenting becomes Heaven on Earth.
And don't let anyone tell you the love is any less intense. Just the other day I saw a picture of these two taken from behind. When I saw the backs of those little heads, I wanted to kiss them so badly I hurt. Two little boys made me a mom, and now two little boys have made me a grandmother—the most wonderful role God ever created.
The Bible doesn't really say much about grandparents. We know they are there because we see the relationships, but even then we don't really see the interaction. For example, Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born (Gen 21:5). Isaac married at 40 and was 60 when Jacob and Esau were born (Gen 25:26). Abraham died at 175 (Gen 25:7). Do the math. Isaac would have been 75 and Jacob and Esau would have been 15. They knew their grandfather Abraham. How did they get along? What did they learn from him? That part of the relationship is left for us to imagine.
The best we can do to see grandparenting relationships are two women, one in the Old Testament and one in the New. Naomi left Israel with her family and lived in Moab (Ruth 1). While there, her husband died, and then both of her sons, leaving her with two widowed daughters-in-law. I will not vilify Orpah as many do, but we all know the story of how Ruth returned to Israel with Naomi and then spent her days supporting both of them through the benevolent welfare system God had set up. People left crops behind in the fields, often on purpose, and the poor labored to gather what they needed.
In the process, Boaz came to redeem Naomi's son's land and married his widow. The first son of that pair legally wore the name of the dead husband and was Naomi's legal grandson. So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. (Ruth 4:13-16). Don't tell me that Naomi did not play a huge role in how that child was raised, a child in the line of the Messiah, by the way.
And then we have Lois. Her daughter, having been raised (we suppose) in the town where Paul found her, Lystra, and where there was no synagogue, had married a Gentile. In those days, being single was not really an option. Lydia aside, most women simply could not support themselves. So probably her father had done his best to find her a good man who would treat her right. That left her trying to raise a godly son without a Jewish community's help. But she did have her mother's help, and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, I imagine. Paul says to Timothy, I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. (2Tim 1:5).
We can make some suppositions about other grandparents in the Bible, but these two are important. They tell us that we should have a part in our grandchildren's lives. Though I never really knew my grandfathers, I remember both of my grandmothers fondly. I could talk to them about things I was uncomfortable talking to my parents about. Both of them were Christians so my parents did not need to worry what I might be taught. We need to be that trustworthy as grandparents, too, and willingly play a part in their lives. (I can't imagine anyone needing to be told that!)
And that, of course, leads to the second thing—our children should be able to count on us to help in the teaching process, to reinforce their own rules and values, and to add the wisdom gained from our own life experiences as we teach those precious souls. We also have the opportunity to observe, and in that observation perhaps come up with lessons our grandchildren not only need to hear, but might be more likely to hear from us than from mom and dad.
Children are truly a heritage from the Lord (Psa 127:3). Then they give you grandchildren and prove it all over again. Be there for them. Teach them. Love them. That's what God expects from a grandparent.
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. (Ps 103:15-18)