Tag Archives: grandparents

In all seriousness

4 Jan

I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately. Mostly because I started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a week ago and it’s been freaking me out, totally FREAKING me out but I’m addicted and can’t wait to get to the second one. And I guess I’m also thinking about death because we recently entered a new year and with each new beginning, we look back, we look forward, and we are suddenly so aware of the time or the lack of it rather.

I really had a wonderful time at home visiting my family. The Scottish and I flew into Minneapolis and the next morning my bf and my whole family of five were driving to Bismarck, North Dakota to celebrate Christmas. It’s what we did last year, the year before that, the decade before that, and so on. But I can’t say for sure it’s what we will do next year. I suddenly feel so old and aware of everyone else’s age too. When did my grandparents get old(er)? For clarification, I’m referring to my mother’s parents, because my dad’s parents have since passed away. My dad’s mom and dad loved to travel and in the eighties they sold their house, bought a big RV, and spent the rest of their years traveling from campground to campground. Well, occasionally they would park it our backyard and that was the coolest thing ever because it was like having a little guest house out back that you could visit. But their deaths were very tough on my dad and we all thought Grandma went too soon, and we all remember how awful, and gut-wrenching it was to watch my dad’s dad deteriorate with Alzheimer’s and completely change his entire personality… and now we have to watch it again.

My mom’s father is suffering from Alzheimer’s as well. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, both of my parent’s mothers had breast cancer and survived beautifully, but it is uncanny how two different bloodlines can mimic each other so distinctly. It’s just hard because it’s been a few years now of watching his brain go while he remains one of the healthiest men over age 30 that I know (and he just turned 80!!). He still works in his yard and his doctors are impressed with his fitness, but his brain on the other hand, keeps getting worse. If you’ve never experienced what it’s like to watch someone you love go through this, let me explain that it’s not the fact that they forget which day of the week it is or which grandkid went to which college, (who can remember that anyway)? The difficult part is the anxiety that comes along with losing your memory, they don’t know what to believe and it makes them nervous. The truth is that sometimes they might shower at midnight to get ready for the church service at 9 AM and they might think that their wife of over 50 years is actually their mother.

And yet this Christmas, Grandpa was great, he was funny, he played games, and enjoyed himself. It’s not always bad, but we’re not always there either. My heart breaks for my grandmother because I know many of us have wondered, is it harder on the loved one who is losing their partner or harder on the one losing his memory? I feel terrible for my mom and her siblings because it is their father who is going through all of these changes, and I feel empathy for my fellow cousins.

As if worrying about grandparents wasn’t enough now I find myself worried about my parents when I never used to before. I worry about their safety and their health. I try to de-clutter their house and I actually listen to their problems. Do you remember when you used to only talk about yourself with your parents? I’ll bet your they do. Parents by nature are unselfish beings (of course there are exceptions) but they are dealing with their own struggles and I don’t want them to have struggles! I want their lives to be perfect as they want mine to be.

My nurturing urges don’t stop there! I find myself thinking about my own FUTURE babies. Well, hello, I am 28! My mom had two kids by my age. Please don’t judge me, but I think about what they’ll look like, act like, if I’ll be too over-protective, if I’ll be as good a mother as I am a nanny, and how my parents are going to be so entirely smitten and how I can’t wait to see that.

I think about the Scottish and how I’d be lost without him. I know he didn’t propose over the holidays like I had hoped, but I’m OK with that and I’m OK with waiting a bit longer. I think we’re on the same page now, and as if it was a covered bulletin board, I took down every post-it note that contained a crazy proposal expectation, thus leaving with him a blank slate. And I let him know plain and simple that it’s him I want more than a big dramatic over-the-top romantic proposal, but of course he told me he wants all my dreams to come true, so where does that leave us? Back at square one?

And with all of these nurturing feelings I wonder if I should leave Chicago at some point. I’m torn between my desire to be closer to my family and my desire to pursue my own dreams and notions. I love this city and I know I belong here but my family is so important to me, so why am I not closer? My mom moved 8 hours from her parents and still makes the drive 5 or so times a year. Will I be able to keep that up? When I think about my future, all I see is airplanes! Flights to Minnesota, flights to Scotland, flights to who-knows-where! I guess our kids will be expert travelers by the time they’re one year old!

When I shared my fears with my mom, she told me to take it one year at a time. There’s no reason to worry about where you will live in the future, or what will happen, or where Christmas will take place next year… it just matters where you are now. And this year, I spent Christmas in ND with my amazing family, I came home to an apartment that I sort-of kind-of share with an amazing man, and I went back to my wonderful job and saw my two best kiddos, and for now, that is enough.

Quote: “As we grow old, our sense of the value of time becomes vivid. Nothing else, indeed, seems of any consequence.” William Hazlitt

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