I like to think that my life has been earmarked by living my faith and beliefs before my children, in hopes that they will learn from my examples.
At the age of 10, we moved from our modest 4 bedroom rancher to a larger home that had a bedroom and bathroom on the main floor for my grandmother Gana to live in. Don’t ask about Gana, I have no idea where that came from. Maybe that was how my older brother said grandma and it stuck. Back to the move. Gana had been having some dizzy spells, and my parents couldn’t keep driving an hour to help her out when she had them with a family. This, the decision was made to have her live with us. My sister and I were 10 (fraternal twins), my brother was 15.
For the formative years of my life I watched the dynamic of three generations live under one roof. I watched how my parents dealt with conflict with Gana, how she treated them (not well, I admit), and learned my own way of dealing with her. I admired how put together she was. I appreciated the things she taught me without ever realizing it. She encouraged me to quit biting my nails. She discouraged me from becoming a hairdresser. She bagged me to sit up straight because I had a “beautiful swan’s neck”.
She died several years after I married and moved out. Our children were two and a half and five. They never knew that great grandmother.
Fast forward to 2012. My mother had passed away a few years earlier. Dad was perfectly capable of taking care of himself, but it was becoming obvious that he was lonely. He was visiting me at work pretty regularly. I probably wasn’t visiting much. During those first two years, we made several visits out to my honey’s home state to visit with his elderly mother, and help deal with her estate when she passed in 2010. My brother’s family lived (still does) five hours away, my sister lived (still does) within an hours drive, but didn’t/doesn’t visit much. At the time, my honey and I were living in a small two bedroom, one small bath home. By far, it was one of the favorite places we have lived. Probably because it was a good, fairly non stressful time in our lives. After talking, we decided to find a home to buy that could accommodate all three of us. One thing I learned with my grandmother, was that he needed his own bathroom and space.
We quickly found a home with a main floor bedroom and bathroom for him. The family room they were off became his tv room. Which was fine unless we were having company. Then it wasn’t private, since it was open to the kitchen. We either went into the open living room and our voices competed with the loud tv, or we took our guests upstairs to our bonus room. A bit awkward, but we all made it work for eight years.
We now live in our new home, which we designed for our living situation. Two bedrooms were opened up to each other to form a suite for him. Now he can watch tv in his jammies and we can have company in the kitchen. In the back of our mind, we also wonder if we may someday be living in the “suite”, with one of our two grown children.
We pray that in watching us honor and take care of our father, that, should the day ever arise that we need someone to live with, that they would be willing to move in with us, or have us move in with them. I sometimes wonder what things would look like. Would I get along with them in an adversarial role, as did my grandmother with my mom and dad? Or would it be a mutually beneficial and satisfying situation, as it is with my dad? I pray for the latter, should it ever come to that.
Obviously, none of us ever wants to be a burden on our children when we age. I joke with my dad, when he thanks me for all I do for him (as recently when he took a spill, injures his arm/hand, and couldn’t drive for a few weeks), that I’m just paying him back for all the diapers of mine he must have changed when I was an infant. It’s nice to hear him laugh…