I spent the weekend with my family, on behalf of the only father I have known most of my life, my grandpa. My grandparents, especially my Grandpa George, were the bedrock of our family. All of us felt safe just knowing they were there. I remember when, in their 80s, Grandma became really ill for the first time. I had that sinking feeling that I only later identified as feeling that suddenly, we were really the adults. It felt like there was no longer an older generation to count on if disaster struck. I’ve been completely proven wrong about that, by the way. My mom has shown great strength and togetherness in dealing with their situation (not to mention helping me through and after my divorce). I think I didn’t give her enough credit; kids seldom do.
Grandpa has had a terrible time adjusting to this new reality of life. He doesn’t want to be the one taken care of, or have any of his bills paid by anyone else (even with his own money), or driven anywhere (though he admits it’s nice when it happens). As much as we’d like to give back, we really haven’t had a chance until now. Mom and her brother George found them a really nice place to live and have gone through untold amounts of work to get this to happen. My grandparents have been living in their home for over 60 years. You can only imagine how much stuff there was to sort through and downsize to a 2-bedroom apartment.
It was very traumatic for them, and incredible amounts of work for Mom and her husband Terry, who’s been a trouper, hauling stuff to the dump by the truckloads and figuring out how to give things away. The Universe gave us two great real estate agents and a wonderful family who want to move in, who are all so excited about the space and the big yard that they’ve won over our grandparents and made them feel better about moving out.
So, this was the weekend of the big move – only to have my Grandmother come down with one of her periodic asthma attacks and be rushed to the hospital. The movers were moving anyway, stuff needed to be unpacked and made ready for them when they got back, the dog taken care of, the old house cleaned, etc. So off I went to do my small part of unpacking the apartment while my Mom and her brother George dealt with the old house and moving my grandparents when they were ready.
I can’t help thinking what a strange Father’s Day this must be for my Grandpa. On the one hand, his whole family is around him. On the other hand, things are in chaos, he no longer has his own house to come home to, and Grandma is still recovering. And we’re all busy trying to give them all the new instructions for the place they’re living, at a time when it’s hard for them to remember anything.
On the good side, the place is really nice – on that everyone agrees. Their way-too-large-for-the-rules but incredibly nice and well-behaved dog is busy ingratiating himself in the hearts of every staffer in the place, which will help them when the inevitable emergencies happen. And there was a Father’s Day barbecue that we all got to go to, and discovered that the food is really good, and the people who live in this center are very lively and friendly. Many of them came right up and introduced themselves, and lots of people knew they were moving in. There was a good energy there, which I hope they can feel.
We’re all glad they’re so close – 5 minutes from my Mom and an hour from me – far better than the 2-hr drives each way we were dealing with before. And they have so much more support there than just us. I hope they feel a sense of relief mingled with the anxiety and disorder of change. From this point on, the best thing we can do is spend time with them there – something I’m determined to fit into my schedule. It’s the least I can do, and I’ve not been very good about it since I moved to Puyallup. Time to be a better grand-daughter to the grandparents that have been there all their lives for me.