We recently attended my extended family’s 2nd bi-annual (every two years) reunion; we all stayed in a very large, sorta creepy, old, sprawling house –complete with secret passageways and a servant’s staircase leading to the kitchen. There were about 20 of us at our ‘peak’ attendance, ranging in age from my 88 year old dad to my 2 year old grand-daughters.
Mostly, it was a lazy time together. We were awakened each morning by the youthful enthusiasm of my young nephews as they ran up and down the long upstairs hallway; their attempts to muffle their joy to let us old folks sleep were not the least successful. My brother and his wife made us a huge breakfast each morning; it was quite a treat to find coffee, eggs, sausages and waffles upon a leisurely arrival in the kitchen.
“Grandpa” Dan and I had to share the grand-daughters with their aunts, uncles and cousins, all of whom were smitten by X1’s charm and by X2’s determination to NOT SMILE, despite everyone’s silliest attempts. Eventually X2 would reward us with a beautiful shy smile, usually with grandpa kiss-tickling her neck.
Our last reunion, 2 year ago, was bittersweet due to my daughter, Guzzy’s, anorexia and our mother’s advancing Alzheimers. I carefully monitored and measured and administered Guzzy’s food for three meals and three snacks a day. Food was the medicine she desperately needed and also desperately resisted. Although my family did not really understand her disease, they surrounded her with love, and the event gave her some temporary respite from her ED fog.
My mother was angry and mad at us all; she really thought we had pulled a mean trick on her by bringing her to this strange place without telling her what was going on. It was both tragic and comedic as she lashed out at Dan: “This is the most terrible thing she’d ever heard”. Poor Dan. Poor mom.
That reunion gave us the opportunity to have a serious talk with dad, during which we all agreed it was time that mom live somewhere that was better equipped and staffed to deal with her severe dementia. It was a sad, but loving, conversation.
Fast forward to earlier this week: My mother is no longer with us–and while we miss her, we are glad she is now at peace. Guzzy is healthy and ate just as many S’mores as her cousins, without batting an eye.
Life is good.