Parallels in Life


First off, although I am older and my memories (on certain things) are fading, I do very vividly remember that the word "parallel" was on a spelling test I had in 7th grade.  I couldn't spell it then, and I have to always double check it when I use it now.  I have a parallel problem.

I see parallels between my son and myself.  I have some specific memories when I was a junior in high school.  The second half of the school year was when the show M*A*S*H*  ended.  I had successfully found a t-shirt that I wanted which had Radar's teddy bear on it (I think I still have it tucked away somewhere) and I recall talking about the show the day after the finale ended in my English class.  (I had a very cool English teacher; I think she knows that.)

I associate this time period with the time that my (maternal) grandfather had to move into what we called a nursing home.   Now a days they seem to call them assisted living, but it's the same thing.  That place where they (try to) take good care of you, but it smells and is depressing. (Apologies to anyone who works in the industry.)  I didn't go visit that often (which as adult really bothers me), but my grandmother went just about every day.  He lived there for two and a half years before he died.  Sometimes I drove my grandmother over.  She had a great old car (I think from the 1960s), but didn't drive much and as relatively young driver, I loved driving it.

He moved into the nursing home after he had spent a couple of days at the hospital.   He had not been himself; I don't know what the diagnosis was at that time, but the word Alzheimer's was bounced around.  I don't know if that was actually determined, but it really doesn't matter what you call it:  Alzheimer’s, dementia, senility...Whatever it was it robbed my grandfather of a healthy life.  It robbed my family of the man we knew.  I said back then (and say now), whatever it was it killed my grandfather twice.  Once when he ceased to be the person I knew for the first 19 years of my life and then again when he died in September of 1985.

I didn't spend enough time with my grandfather.  Probably because I was a self-absorbed teen.  I didn't learn from my mistakes however.  I didn't spend enough time with either of my grandmothers.  My maternal grandmother had a stroke in the early 1990s.  After that she was bedridden and non-verbal until she died in 1994.   I did have the opportunity to spend more time with my paternal grandmother and visited her along with my father regularly.  (Not as regularly as my father, who as I recall, went over to visit her at the senior residence just about every night after dinner.)  But still, I did not spend as much time as I wish I did.  I did not take the time to learn more about my grandparent’s lives or to hear their stories.

Where does the parallel portion of this post come in?  My son, like me, for much of his life, his maternal grandparents lived next door.  Like me, he spent a lot of time with them. Finally, my son is wrapping up his junior year and one of his grandmother has just been diagnosed with dementia.  Like I was, my son will be robbed of time spent with someone he loved.

Because of my experience, I tried to make sure my son had as much time as possible with both sets of his grandparents. When he was younger (pre-teen years), he traveled a lot with my in-laws, usually spending part of winter break and a week in the summer with them.  He also always spent a week or two with my parents in the summer.  He went to a marine biology day camp for several years, but I think one of his favorite things was going to the yacht club with my parents for dinner.  He loved getting "dressed up" and going out.  He was always well behaved (with them) and was definitely a hit with my parents' friends.

I wanted to make sure my son and his grandparents had quality time together.  I knew that as he got older he would want to spend more time with his friends and less with his grandparents.  I wanted to make sure that he had good memories of his grandparents and he has.

I wish that my son and didn't parallel when it comes to maternal grandparents. I wish he had a little more time.  (Don't we always?)  At this point, my mom has confusion, but also has a good deal of lucidity.  We'll be taking advantage of that; working with the time that we do have.  There's still time to make memories and share stories.  There's still time. That's the best that we can do.  

The best we can do with what life has presented us with; it's what we should all do.


Popular posts from this blog

Not Guilty

Please Don't Ask Me...

Lowe's LIES