From Infant to Elder

As I lifted the spoon full of peaches to her lips, I carefully made sure not to spill any on her clothes. Her lips tried to soak up the juices but some dribbled down her chin, so I took a napkin and wiped her mouth. I made a mental note to try and find a bib that she could wear to prevent these types of spills again.

I asked her if she was thirsty and she nodded her head. I grabbed her cup, held a straw to her lips and let her take a long sip. It felt good to make sure that she was receiving nourishment.

This was not something that I ever expected — feeding my 88-year-old grandmother. I also never expected to watch my mother and aunts care for her every public and private need — careful helping her in and out of the car or wheelchair, bathing her, dressing her and carting her from doctor’s appointment to doctor’s appointment.

This scenario was all the more difficult because her husband of nearly 68 died a few weeks ago. My grandfather was 90 and lived a full, happy and contented life. As he lay in a hospice bed dying after suffering a stroke, my family and I rallied around my grandmother. She has suffered her share of medical problems in the past few years and my grandfather was her primary caretaker. In fact, she recently injured her wrist and could not feed herself, which is why we have all taken turns helping her.

This is the cycle of life on full display — from infant to elder. As I dipped the spoon into the syrupy peaches, I flashed back a few years to my children’s days in a high chair. Here I was on the other end of the spectrum, feeding someone heading closer to the sunset of their days. This topic has been written about by others much more eloquent than I. However, this is my “face slap” moment, i.e. the moment when I suddenly realized that this is a part of life we all must confront and accept. Welcome to aging.

You also have to know this — my grandmother was young when I was born. She was 45 so she was like a second mother to me. She babysat me often, cared for me like my own mother and instilled the values in me that she instilled in her own children. She also fed me just like I was feeding her one recent morning. This woman was as patient and kind as any grandmother straight out of Central Casting. She has been a rock for each of us in our family and it’s our turn to be a rock for her.

I always realized the Riddle of the Sphinx was true — walking on four legs, two legs and then three legs as we age through our lives — but to see it up close and deeply personal transforms it from a conscious thought to a reality. Getting old stinks. And it stinks even more when you lose the person you’ve shared the most intimate and poignant moments of your life with.

My grandmother has to humble herself to let others do for her what she has always done for herself. She has to cede control. She has to accept that her body simply will not allow her to be the person she once was. It is being born in reverse — needing others to feed you and help you with the most basic human tasks. Oddly enough, I felt a sense of pride in knowing that I was able momentarily care for this woman who once fed me, changed me, tucked me in at night and watched over me like her own child. It is my chance to pay her back in a small yet meaningful way.

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The Beginning
About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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