Last week when I was writing these few words I hadn’t realised that it was a weekend of special prayers for Grandparents and the elderly. Pope Francis, who is getting on in years himself, has many kind and thoughtful things to say to, and about, the senior members of the community. I think he probably grew up in a culture where the grandparents lived in the house with one of their children, a constant presence in the home, a welcome member of the family. For children who grew up with these older people around, with their wrinkles and grey hair, sticks and hats, medicines and potions, prayer books and beads, teeth that came out at night and clothes that had a funny smell, there was a real appreciation for them.

Grandparents have a special way of showing their tenderness and love, their wisdom and insight, to all in the family, even the kitten and the pup. When there is one older person around then often their friends call by, or can be heard on the phone, chatting about strange people and places, sometimes in a voice that carries all through the house. From time to time they might get sick and then doctors and nurses come, visits are made to clinic and hospitals and many big and unusual words are spoken at the table.

Seen through the eyes of a child, grandparents are a constant source of wonder, of fun, of wisdom and love. So, I guess Pope Francis is right to remind us all to be aware of the elderly and their needs, to listen to them, to accompany them with supportive care and to enjoy their presence.