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With Grandparents

by Tara

During the month of November, Tyler and I spent most of our time in southern Illinois with my mom and dad, taking care of my grandparents. My 92 year old grandfather had been in the hospital for major abdominal surgery. It was touch and go at times—we were unsure if he'd make it through the repeated bouts of nasty infections he picked up during recovery. Eventually, he pulled through, and we were able to help him move into a skilled care facility for rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, we lived with my grandmother in the house she's called home for over sixty years. We cooked together, ate together, worked together, laughed together, and sighed many a heaving sigh. Emotions ran high in our newly multi-generational space as we navigated the rocky waters of elder care, and juggled dozens uncertainties about the coming weeks and months.

Until grandpa was rushed to the hospital, he and my 87 year old grandmother lived by themselves. With his health failing, it has become clear that they need more care than they can provide for themselves. So, part of this visit was spent getting my grandmother situated in an assisted living facility. I decorated and furnished her apartment in a cheerful, simple, and spacious way.

Reflections at Grandma's Apartment

She's happier than I've ever seen her, and she's made the transition with grace, inhabiting the new space with ease. Her first words when she saw my efforts were, "Oh it's like a dream!" Her apartment project ranks near the top of things in life of which I am proud to have done. When she enthusiastically shows off her new home to the many visitors who have called, I can't help but beam with pride.

Glass Pitcher in Window at Grandma's Apartment

The past month has been an intensely emotional, excruciatingly exhausting, highly stressful, loving and learning experience, filled with poignant moments that will remain with me vividly for the rest of my days. Supporting one another through the ups and downs of each obstacle and adventure, bringing our individual strengths to the table, and working towards the common goals of getting both of my grandparents situated in safe, nurturing environments has truly strengthened the bonds of our family.

I cannot describe how grateful I am that this took place now, and not a year or two years ago, while we were cycling abroad. I am deeply grateful that Tyler's work allows us the freedom to pick up and go, to take as much time as we need to be of service to our families, and to simply be together. In spite of how trying and tiring the past month has been, the experience has left me feeling utterly blessed.

Note from Dad / Mark