Everyone laughs when they hear Grandpa’s stories. I’m not sure why because, generally, the stories we tell are not meant to be funny. Mostly, they’re about the struggles we’ve encountered since taking my 89-year-old father out of a nursing home in October of 2009 to care for him ourselves.
After talking about our new responsibilities (actually, to anyone who will listen), most people agree that if you’re able to take care of your elderly parents, it’s the right thing to do. After all, many adult children over the age of fifty will have to care for an elderly parent now or sometime in the near future.That’s why Grandpa’s stories strike a cord. They give hope to others who are going through similar situations or become poignant reminders for those who have already done their duty.
And even if someone hasn’t been there, they’re rootin’ for us all the same. If one family can keep their elderly father from wasting his golden years drooling all over his wheelchair in a drugged induced stupor, some how, some way, they might be able to keep it from happening to them, too.
Let’s face it, growing old isn’t fun. The “golden” years eventually give way to the “not so golden” years, when we become totally dependent upon others to meet our most basic needs. Seniors who have lived independently, not wanting to burden their families, suddenly find themselves at the mercy of institutions to keep them happy and healthy. However, after just a few days in the nursing home, mom, dad, grandma or grandpa, come to realize that nobody can care for them like their own family.
Daily, a steady stream of overworked and underpaid staff can be seen filing through the nursing home doors. These are the ones to whom we entrust the care of the least among us – our precious parents and grandparents. Sadly for many families, the realization that they could be or should be part of the solution for this great social injustice never dawns on them.
I am thankful for the dedicated CNA’s and nursing home staff who, above insurmountable odds, keep giving from their hearts. They have one of the hardest jobs in society. However, they can never truly replace a family who takes responsibility for the care and well being of their own.
Some like ourselves, have been given the opportunity to follow a different path, and although it seems filled with overwhelming obstacles at times, it is also a path to tremendous blessing. The sooner individual families realize what a privilege it is to be involved in the aging process, the sooner they will find grace for the journey.
This is the story of one family’s triumph over the “me” generation. Grandpa’s stories give voice to all the families who live selflessly day in and day out, those silent heroes who care for their elderly parents without notoriety or payment. Why do they do it? For love.
I love that you have your dad at home with you. We aren’t there yet but I hope and pray that we can do this for our aging parents and possibly singles that we are related to as well. You do give me hope and I think you are all showing God’s love-you are doing what we are called to do…love one another.
I’m so glad that your father has your family to help him along in his ‘golden’ years. We never meant to laugh at the stories as in making fun of them but more laughing with you, when you sit back and think about them later on. I am recalling only three or four that Eric posted on his facebook status. I’m sorry if my family hurt you or your family.
Oh, Nancy, we have been laughing ourselves – sometimes after the fact, but Grandpa is pretty funny, especially when he doesn’t mean to be. Don’t give it a second thought. Your first instinct was to laugh, and most of the time, ours is too!
Laughter is often just a blink away from tears…but a merry heart is good medicine…and in most of our day to day trials and tribulations…we are able to laugh at the irony.
This was beautifully written, Jill. Thank you.