Grandparents Day held special meaning for me this year. Generations United, where I work part-time, expanded Grandparents Day from a single-day event into a week-long celebration. We wanted not only to pay homage to older Americans, but to issue a call to action: ask them to stay involved and continue to share their wisdom and knowledge with younger folks and the community-at-large.
During that week of celebration, I also celebrated the life of a dear friend, Lillian Lynch, at a memorial service held for her on September 13. Lillian had died a month earlier at the age of 99.
Throughout her long and giving life, Lillian Lynch was a crusader for improving the lives of children and families, especially for those most in need. In the early days of Head Start, she was a board member of the National Child Day Care Association in Washington, DC, serving as the representative of the Washington Urban League. She had strong concerns about the lives of all young children and especially those in the inner city. When she left the Urban League she maintained her board interest, serving on the board for three terms and then as an Honorary Member after being voted in to that spot.
Age to her was no factor and she continued to attend meetings and always made comments. In recognition of her devotion and extraordinary service, Nation’s Capital Child and Family Development named a child care center after her. The center was located in the Columbia Heights area of Washington, DC, which is where Lillian served many years in an administrative capacity in a health center. She had several grandchildren and great grandchildren of her own but she was always pleased to visit “her” center where 60 children called her grandma.
About a year ago, Lillian told me she did not think she would live to be 100 and she was preparing for her funeral. She told me she wanted me to speak at her funeral and gave me an outline of the service. Six months later, when I joined her as a bridge partner at Leisure World, she reminded me about my commitment to speak and I made an absolute commitment to carry out this mission. When Generations United began planning Grandparents Day, I wondered about contacting her son to post comments on Facebook. However, her illness became too severe and she died August 10.
I would like to offer a tribute to a woman who devoted many years of her life serving others and who had a deep love for young children, especially those in need. Her memorial service took place on the morning of the day Generations United sponsored a White House event in celebration of all grandparents. The confluence of those two events—paying homage to Lillian and attending a White House meeting on the same day—were extremely meaningful for me.
Written By: Tom Taylor