My grandparents have officially moved into a Seniors' Lodge this week, and while it is the best place for them to be, I have to admit that I never wanted this day to happen. The memories have been flooding back from my childhood: Kentucky Fried Chicken dinners with the family (back before it was KFC), fall parties, hundreds of Sunday roasts, and a door that was open anytime.
I remember a few times when my life was a little stressful - during exams, during tax season, or just personal things going on, and it was so easy to make the drive out to the little bungelow at the end of the street. Grandma and Grandpa would be there with smiling faces, cookies on the table, crossword puzzle open, and I could just sit and chat, and let whatever troubles I was having melt away.
In recent years, there have been more concerns about my grandparents than anything else - grandma losing her memory, grandpa losing his hearing, and just plain old age taking over. There was lots of discussion that they should move, but grandpa wouldn't budge, even when he ended up in the hospital, and in hindsight I now see that he was right to keep grandma at home, even at the expense of their health.
Since grandma entered the hospital on March 2, the change in environment and lack of familiar surroundings has caused a downward spiral that I would have never anticipated. In one month she has gone from, "Hi Jo" to "Who's there, oh, hi Jo" to even more delayed recognition. My last visit was nice, but also sad, as she was tired and difficult to understand, and I put her to bed as I had back on March 6, thinking of how our roles have reversed since my childhood. The past year may have been hard for us on the outside to deal with, but it allowed my grandparents to enjoy their time together, and kept my grandma in the stable environment that she needed. Now I wonder if she'll ever bounce back.
It's so easy to cry when I think of the memories of that house - the overnight stays (that sometimes turned into three nights), the summer I stayed in the basement when I was working at the University, Christmas, the first time I took Matthew there, all of the weeks I visited when the kids were little, climbing the trees in the backyard, eating fresh rhubarb out of the garden, and the smell of the lilac tree in the summer.
But then I remind my selfish self that no matter how badly I feel, my dad, aunt and uncle would feel even worse seeing their childhood home being emptied, and my grandpa would feel even worse than that. It's a time to come together as a family, not wallow in my own pity party. I have years worth of fabulous memories and I am so thankful for that.