I always have some plan in my head for my morning. But I also prioritize and adjust.
"Of course I can. What time? Where should I take her - your house or her apartment?"
Luckily, I found a parking space at the wildly busy Erie Community College campus and got to the Kittinger Hall door just as Ellen opened it and came out. I called Grandpa to let him know "Mission Accomplished!"
On the way to Ellen's apartment, we had a good visit about her new classes, on campus and online, her teachers, reading lips (I wear hearing aids; Ellen has a Cochlear Implant), and her brother and sister's overnight at her place, watching movies. The visit was worth changing my less important plans.
I'm very glad that Amy feels free to call us when her children - our precious grand-children - need rides to or from school, or other places. I'm very glad she and our daughter Mary Beth call when our grand-children are doing something special at school or in extracurricular activities. I wish we lived closer to the other three's families, but, no matter how busy we all are, we all make the effort to get together every few months.
Being alone in a car with a grand-child or attending his or her sports game, play, recital, or concert, is a marvelous opportunity to get to appreciate him or her in a unique way, to give this special child a chance to get to know who these old seniors are. To let each one know how much he or she is loved.
Visiting with our grown children is another marvelous opportunity to get to know and appreciate each other as adults. To share experiences and values. It's amazing how often one of our grown children will say "I didn't know that!" when my husband tells them a story from his life. We both wonder - did Paul REALLY never tell that story before? Or are our children finally old enough to understand and appreciate it? To see their father's strength, endurance, faith, and integrity during very different historical times with new eyes?
Another reason we love to see our children and grand-children is that their joy, energy, enthusiasm, and sheer life provide a perfect counter-balance to the loving sadness we experience whenever we visit my mother, who has dementia, in the nursing home.
It hurts Paul and me to feel helpless, to see a parent suffer, even though Mom's eyes still light up with happiness when she sees us and we feel an instant connection to her. Her slow, inevitable dying reminds us of the inevitability of our final illnesses and deaths. Our children and grand-children remind us that there is always new life and hope and creativity coming into this world.
Which is why, as I left my friend Kathy at the nursing home, who'd cried continually because of her mother's constant crying, I told her to go enjoy her grand-son's game that night. We're the Sandwich Generation - and Life is a Club Sandwich and we need every layer to feel balanced and whole.
Our children's families and we know that we're each others' priorities. That no matter how busy we are, Family comes first. That it's pure joy to be with each other. What could be more important than all the generations learning from each other so that our children and grand-children remember us and our separate families' histories when God has called us Home?
And, when we go Home, we hope to have the joy, energy, and creativity and sheer Life that we see in our grand-children. If we remind them of the sturdy, enduring Roots they come from, they are the ones who remind us of the Wings we'll soar with one day!
"God, You have taught me from my youth. To this day I proclaim Your wondrous deeds.
Now that I am old and gray, do not forsake me, God,
That I may proclaim Your might to all generations to come." (Psalm 71, 17 and 18).