Life Changes Daily

Recently, we have had family members impacted with health issues.  My mother-in-law is dealing with progressive dementia.  Some days she’s her normal, dry-witted funny self.  Some days she’s burdened with hearing voices that don’t exist.  She believes they are real so for her, they are.  For us, it is worrisome, but often humorous.  We have to see it as being funny or we’d go nuts.

My aunt had a stroke several weeks ago.  She had been dealing with other health problems since January.  Once the MRI was performed, the doctors discovered this was her second stroke.  She is slowly healing.  I spent yesterday afternoon with her and my uncle.  I was delighted and humbled to find him such a compassionate patient nurse.  I was equally pleased to discover that she is slowly healing.  Their son-in-law was there to help them with their plumbing.  A neighbor couple stopped by to wish her well and offer phone numbers in the event that she needed anything.  Other friends called offering to bring dinner.  Her sister phoned to check on her.  We took a brief ride into the close-by small town for a birthday party for the 7 year old son of their neighbor.  The mother and grandmother came out from the party to hug my aunt and wish her well – offering a pizza and phone numbers in case she needed anything.  We then rode by the home of good friends who offered the same as the above to my aunt and uncle. 

In each case, the seen or the calling told my aunt they loved her and would be there for anything she needed.  My aunt is a proud independent woman, not used to needing help from anyone.  She has been the rock and the one who offers help.  She assisted her own mother with her health problems.  In the last two years, she was the nurse, hair and make-up stylist to her oldest daughter who had broken her back in a car accident.  She arrived every morning at her daughter’s house to get her up, bathe her, and get her ready for the day.  Food in tow, she was the epitome of the stalwart mother.  Now, she must accept the gracious nursing care of that same daughter, who has quit her job to stay with her mother. 

I had forgotten the tender loving care of country neighbors who are there, come hell or high water.  I was reminded of just how easy it is to lose your ability to be in charge of yourself.  I was equally humbled by those who so willingly gave of themselves.

Next to my aunt stood a basket filled with get well cards.  My aunt would definitely prefer not to be the recipient of any of this.  She would prefer to be the one giving the care, not receiving.  That is true of many of us.  Part of the graciousness of life is that we learn to accept what others offer and take it willingly, with love and appreciation.

I greatly enjoyed my hours with both of them, listening to my uncle’s stories about people I had known, and taking a picture of an ancestral home.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to be in their presence.  I wish her godspeed on her journey to good health, and love to my nieces and uncle who are taking such tender care of her.  It was a good day for me to be there.  Family and friends are so important.


Connecting with a grandson

Several years ago, my oldest son had a meltdown.  He was in a marriage with a young son.  He descended into a personal hell of depression and addiction.  During the first 1 1/2 years, he managed to keep his job without actually going to work.  That may have been the worst thing that could have happened to him.  He could continue his poor lifestyle choices and support those choices financially.

After living through a year of hell, my daughter-in-law moved four hours away to be closer to her sister who helps her with childcare for this precious and beautiful grandson.  I believed it to be a wise choice although it left holes in me that has taken years to heal.  I don’t know if complete healing is there although I think I’m getting close.

I am deeply  impressed with how my daughter-in-law has handled her life since then.  She bought a house, my grandson is in private school, and she has a great job.  She juggles the decisions, the finances, the discipline, and the lifestyle choices of my grandson.  He has emerged unscathed from the divorce as far as I can tell, has immersed himself in the world around him, plays sports, has very good grades.  In essence, they have made the successful transition to another life.

Last night she told me that she wants my son to be happy.  I have no relationship with this son.  This is not by my choice.  He has distanced himself from our family and that is how it needs to be for now.  I have also done my own distancing to preserve sanity in my own life and to keep the drama to a minimum.  I hope that distancing will no longer be necessary one day.  But I am so impressed with her growth.  She doesn’t harbor anger and hatred.  She wants him to be stable and have a calm life.  Much of this is because she wants that for her son – and to have a relationship with a healthy father.  Again, I’m impressed.  Having gone through a divorce with my son’s father, I never quite reached that mature point.  Perhaps I will work on it more now.

Being a grandmother brings a host of issues.  One is that I am not in charge of my grandchildren‘s lives.  I don’t get to make the choices that I did as a mother.  That took a great deal of getting used to.  I have two other grandchildren who belong to my middle son and his capable wife. Learning that I am not in charge when I used to be so terribly in charge has taken years of changing.  Now, I try to appreciate the love that these parents use in the raising of their children.  I’m getting better at it.

I’m humbled by the chance to spend time in my daughter-in-law’s home caring for my grandson.  Her willingness to allow this is the stuff of appreciation.  I’m sure this is a lesson that will continue to develop for me.