Not all-out-weeping mind you, but tears of both hard reality mingled with thankfulness.
Last week was the last time I will visit my grandparents in their present home.
Over a year ago, they both required extra care in order to live as independently as possible. My mom, their passionate care giver and advocate, found the best care possible at the time, worked endlessly to make the move (which was significant) all come together. And, for the first time ever, I found myself living in the same community as my grandparents.
With our learn-at-home lifestyle last year, it was much easier to scoot over for a 1/2 hour visit every few weeks. I treasured these times, though it wasn't always easy!!, because I knew that they were limited.
My grandparents are in the minority - they are both aging (and forgetting!) things at the same time. Typically, one spouse goes through this process much sooner than the other, requiring the two, who've spent the majority of their lives together, to be forced to live apart. Even though it's hard to watch them forget, at least they are in it together!!
Grandma and Grandpa are still so affectionate with each other. Every one I talk to who has seen them comments on this. The trials and lessons of life have, over the years, brought them even closer. Both having been widowed early in life, they blended families, careers, interests and love for God and family. These days, they often sit side by side on the couch, holding hands, still enjoying each other's company. Their camaraderie is evident, even when the fog of hazy memory sets in.
The other side of this love story is my own mom, who has devoted much time and energy to their care. To anyone who finds themselves caring for aging loved ones, I pray for you. Yours is not an easy task. It hurts to remember when others forget; it can be painful to care for those who once cared for you.
And yet - you remember. You serve. You care.
And how often in our fast-paced world do we not care, not serve, not remember.
These are the examples I have before me, and I am thankful.
I came home from that last visit and called my mom. I am so thankful she took the time to care for my grandparents. They are now at a stage where they require even more care, and instead of separating them (which is the standard procedure is), she has advocated their situation once again and now they will move on to more supportive care together. This is "never done"because "it goes against policy." She didn't take "no" for an answer. How grateful I am.
Once the hub-bub of christmas life passes, we will go and visit them in their new space. I will continue to share the stories of our times together with them and my girls. They no longer remember, but I do. We will laugh. We will say "I love you."
And when we leave, their minds may forget that we've even been there, but their hearts won't.