Monday, December 17, 2012
Busy Times, Family Times, Good Times
She was cheery company all through the long car ride, singing and making up stories to entertain us -- I learned words and tune to "If all the Raindrops were Lemon Drops and Gum Drops" -- a most delightful song, well worth singing eight or ten times! Renditions of Rudolph, Winter Wonderland, and Frosty also improved with practice.
And several times along the route, Nola would simply burst out, "I'm excited to see G-Gs! They're going to be SO Happy to see me!" I must say, That heals a lot of hurts . . .
It's hard to see my in-laws in these restricted circumstances, both looking so much frailer than even 4 months ago (a broken hip, chemotherapy -- broken bones and cancer are so tough on the aged). But they are safe, at least, and they're adjusting to their new home. Perhaps they'll even make new friends within the complex. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law still has her collection of teddy bears to please little ones, and Nola has one more memory of the warmth of a Great-Grandmother's arms.
Driving back from that set of grandparents, we phoned my mom. We caught her at home, and although she was somewhat distracted by a visitor who was reminding her, in the background, that one of my sisters was coming over soon, she was pleased to hear from us. We announced our impending arrival, with Nola, in about 20 minutes. She said she was looking forward to seeing us.
Imagine our amusement, then, to find no answer when we dialled her condo from the front door. A kindly neighbour of hers, a spry 85-year-old, let us in and we knocked and knocked and knocked on her door. Surely she couldn't have gone out. I texted my sister and then we went for lunch nearby, keeping an eye out for Mom on our way.
Sure enough, just as we tucked into our burgers and milkshakes (a particular favourite of a certain Little Girl), my sister called me back. Mom had completely forgotten we were coming, and when Rachel showed up about 10 minutes after we phoned, she'd asked if Rachel would help her with an errand at a nearby shop. They were back in the condo now, so we finished up our meal and headed over there so Nola could fit in a few more hugs, check out a few more teddy bears. All's well that ends well, but the incident underlined the challenges of keeping in touch with aging parents who have memory problems. . . .
A girlfriend I had lunch with the other day is also juggling her time baby-sitting grandchildren with her time doing errands for her mother and her mother-in-law, both in their early 90s. We talked about this new version of the sandwich generation, commiserating over its difficulties even as we celebrated our luck in having our grandchildren spend some time with these very special elders.
Today, we're picking up our daughter and brand new granddaughter Harriet for the day. These family activities push aside the work stuff I still need to finish, the Christmas gifts I'm still wanting to make and buy and wrap. And I remind myself to say, "So What?!" If Christmas is about anything at all, surely this is it.
You're probably juggling a few things yourself, right now, aren't you? After all, 'tis the season. Care to share? And perhaps let us know how you end up reconciling the demands of the season with its true spirit. We're listening . . . .