My grandma, my mom's mom, will be joining us for Thanksgiving this year. She and my grandpa live near Chicago in a condo near the home of my aunt. My aunt and uncle convinced them to move to Chicago back when Grandpa retired from the ministry. And while Grandma and Grandpa were in good health and while aunt and uncle were in the midst of careers and raising kids, it all went together nicely. Now, aunt and uncle are retiring from the medical field. Plans are to move to another state- a colder and more northern state. That will happen within the next year or so, I think. But the immediate issue is Thanksgiving. Aunt and uncle are taking an extended vacation to somewhere tropical- with no one available to care for the grandparents in Chicago. Sidebar- the rest of the siblings are scattered. My mom is in Cincinnati, her sister is in KY, another sister is in San Francisco, her brother in another part of northern CA. For years, my mom has been wanting my grandparents to live in Cincinnati. Until recently, mom's brother also lived in Cincy so there would have been 3 siblings within an hour or so of each other, all available to help care for my grandparents. Enough history. If I keep going, it will get really complicated. So while aunt and uncle are on tropical vacation, there is concern about Grandma and Grandpa being left alone. It is believed that Grandpa can pretty well take care of himself. Taking care of Grandma is the challenge. Her health is failing her. Quickly. My parents are going to great lengths to convert the house for her 2 weeks stay. They are converting the dining room into a bedroom so that Grandma won't have to deal with stairs. They are having a wheelchair ramp installed. And other things... but they are changing the house to make this work. My mom is facing the death of her mother... wants me to "take notes" so I know how to care for her when the times comes. I'm not prepared to think about that. So here is where I need you, gentle readers. My mom suggested finding a way to prepare my daughter for being around my Grandma. She is now an old person in failing health. She is frail, she is in a wheelchair. She looks different from other people. She is lacking energy. I've been looking for children's books that explain aging and that might even help prepare for passing. But I've not come up with anything- at least not on Amazon.com! For parents- Have you had your kids interacting with old people? How have they handled the difference? Have you come across concerns from your kids? For everyone- What memories do you have of old people in your childhood? I remember going to visit my mom's paternal grandmother and grandfather in the nursing home every week. Great Grandmama had been struck by several severe strokes and all I remember of her was that I couldn't understand anything she said and she seemed to always be miserable. I was scared of her. Great Grandpa, on the other hand, was my respite in that nursing home. He was in the men's wing and when I came in, he always had candy for me. And I remember his sweater, for some reason. I was around age 4-5, maybe 6 for their lifetimes.
And I have to admit... I am scared, too. The picture below is my Grandma with Teagan about 2 years ago. This is how I want to remember her. Smiling. Full of joy. I am scared to see her faltering, sick, tired. I don't want her to suffer. She was a very important part of my childhood. I've told my mom that she has huge expectations to achieve in my mind... so far, she is doing wonderfully. But it scares me to think that the memories of my Grandma may end up clouded by the vision of a frail, sickly, struggling old woman. I'm hoping that she still has her smile and her laugh.