Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Visiting Elderly Loved Ones

My mom and I took my newborn daughter on a road trip this past weekend. We went east over the mountains to visit my grandma, who is 84 and slowly losing her memory to dementia.

It was fun to see how much she enjoyed having the baby around. It was sad to hear her ask 10 times in an hour how old the baby was, or what her name was. It was great to laugh at old family memories. It was hard to see that she no longer remembers some of her favorite stories she used to tell. It was hard to see her cry when it was time for us to leave. It was sort of a relief to know that an hour later she will have forgotten we had left. Although not when I realize she would also have forgotten we were even there at all.

The trip was fun in many ways. I got to spend quality time with just my mom and my daughter. We ate whatever we wanted without worrying about calories or fat content. I learned some new funny family stories I hadn't heard before. I also learned things about her and her family that I probably didn't want to know - things she hadn't told me about before because I was too young. Apparently now that I am a mom of three just like her, I was ready. I really wasn't.

However, the past is the past, and I can't do anything to change it. I can only move forward, hopefully with more understanding for why people are the way they are. And really, can't that be applied to everyone we know? That crotchety neighbor who has a fit over how fast you drive down the road (even when you are going the speed limit) - maybe he had a grand-daughter who was hit by a car. The cashier who is impatient with you at the checkout - maybe she gave up cigarettes three days ago. Your son's teacher who grills you about every bruise he gets - maybe she was abused as a child. Your uncle's new wife who wants to know how much you make and how much your mortgage payment is - maybe she was homeless during part of her life.

I guess this weekend was a reminder, in more ways than one, that life is so short and so out of our control. We need to take each day as it comes, being thankful for the blessings we have and simply surviving the hard parts. And in the midst of it all, show love and forgiveness for people and their shortcomings. Because face it - you have shortcomings too.

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