Grandparents can play an important role in strengthening families and building resilience for youth. Since today is National Grandparents Day, I wanted to introduce you to Grandma Sarah, my husband’s grandmother. Sarah Melissa Broadbent Paulsen was a remarkable lady. She had a love for all children, especially her own. When she was the mother of 5 young children, she was called to serve with her husband Finn Paulsen as a mission president and companion for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil.
Just ten years later, she was called to be the First Counselor in the General Primary Presidency, and served the primary children of the world and their leaders with love and compassion.
Finn and Sarah were later called back to Brazil to be the temple president and matron of the first-ever temple in Brazil- in Sao Paolo, and later served again at a temple matron of the Porto Alegre temple in Brazil. To my knowledge, she was the only woman to ever serve as the matron of 2 temples.
When I first met her just prior to becoming engaged to my husband, she talked him up to me like he was the BEST young man that ever existed-which he is! I tell you all of this because Sarah was a remarkable woman and to know her was to love her. She has a strong posterity and they all (130 +) still get together every Christmas, each year for a family reunion, and at other times throughout the year.
Although her children and grandchildren have faced many challenges, they remain faithful and united as a family. I’ve realized this is because of her secret weapon. Something she made sure to do often. Something that, when I first married into the family, intimidated me very much. Since then, it’s something I’ve come to admire and love about her. It’s something that is still done in the family, years after her death. From my research, and personal experience, I believe it has fostered the love and support they have for each other.
What is this secret weapon that builds resilience, connection and unity among family members?
A family talent show!
Yep, that’s right. At every extended family gathering such as the yearly Christmas party and family reunion, she would invite everyone to share a talent-in front of everyone else in attendance. This is a tradition that has carried on well past her death, and still occurs today. I’ll admit, the first few years, this totally intimidated me. All of the singing, dancing, instrument playing, poem reciting, etc., was so intimidating . I was very overwhelmed by the noise and ALL those people-130 to be exact.
However, over the years, I have seen the inspiration and beauty in this gathering of her family. One that led to unifying them in an activity where each took a turn in the spotlight, each was lovingly cheered on, and each was made to feel special within the realms of those who love you the most. In the 16 years that I’ve been in this family, I have seen most all family members face some very difficult challenges. Yet, they have remained strong, resilient and faithful. Research proves Grandma Sarah’s secret weapon to be true. Connection and resilience comes from gathering and from unconditional love and support.