You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Visiting relatives’ tag.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

My dad’s parents lived well up until their last few years and they lived long—both until 92. I didn’t know how lucky I was to have grandparents who were active and independent—even into my late 20s—before old age finally caught up with them. Before that they made annual car trips halfway across the country to visit their relatives while also being able to drive themselves to watch our sporting events or to come stay with us. Granddad didn’t retire for the final (his third) time until he was in his mid-80s.

Although their own family was small—just my dad and our family—they had a large circle of extended family members and old friends who they always made sure to see. Their best times in old age were spent visiting with these people—something I thought was B-O-R-I-N-G. What I didn’t see then was how they got together with those in their circle, even during hard times. They loved to see new babies or talk about good times, but where they shone was visiting people in hospitals and nursing homes and attending funerals.

I have never been one of those people who walks into a nursing home at ease—though it breaks my heart that so many people are living in bodies and minds that are failing them, I am also afraid of approaching and interacting with them—as if somehow it’s all about me and my discomfort and not theirs. This despite the fact my grandparents brought me to visit in a nursing home often in my younger years because one of their (our) relatives lived there much of her long life after an early head injury. Thanks to them I at least understood that old age didn’t always look like the independence Granddad and Grandma maintained—and I witnessed what faithful commitment to loved ones through hard times looked like.

When my grandmother finally ended up in such a place in the final two years of her life, it was hard for me to see her that way in that space. I didn’t have to face my discomfort too often because I lived far away busy raising toddler twins, but in those years while my grandma declined, my father kept up the good visiting example set before him by his parents.

Later as my own mom descended deep into Alzheimer’s, I moved her into memory care. I had to learn to override my discomfort in order to visit her most days, but I did. And when you visit someone in memory care, you visit many other people beside your own loved one. I wouldn’t say I grew relaxed, but I could reach out to the other (mostly) women who I met there—people who I could see as individuals hanging onto who they were by a slim thread and people who needed to know they were not alone in whatever scary lack of understanding their own minds exhibited. Like my grandparents and father before me, I held hands and talked.

Now, four years since my mom has been gone, we are back to visiting my husband’s mother. A fracture of the femur and subsequent hip surgery sent her to a physical rehabilitation center, but it is an inability of her mind to absorb all the instructions that has finally sent her into a skilled nursing center—aka nursing home—to see if she can recover enough to walk back into her home. Once again we are confronting the frightening realities of people whose bodies and/or minds do not work as they should—including hers. But, still, we hold hands and talk.

My grandparents taught me how to do this—I don’t know if they were ever afraid or sad or tired of going when they went to see people, but they just went and visited. That’s what they did. I had no idea how brave they were to do so year after year for so many people and to keep visiting until they visited one last time for the final goodbye.

Visiting someone in a care facility is hard for me but I have to remind myself how much harder it has to be to be a person at the mercy of failing bodily systems away from my home and those whom I love. God bless the workers who care for our loved ones in our absence, but may we never forget how much power there is in spending our own time with those loved ones who long for who and how they once were and how we can give them a connection to the lives they have led outside their confinement.

I used to think my grandparents’ use of the word visiting spelled B-O-R-I-N-G, but now I know it spelled L-O-V-E. Now, that was living well.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Busy, Busy, Busy—that’s how it’s been around here. That’s also why last night we waited until we started hearing booms before running out—accompanied only by our dogs—to watch whatever fireworks we could glimpse in between houses and trees.

First stage of busyness happened when we had to prepare our home for company since we were expecting eight guests to our modest-sized 1940s home. Did I mention that half of those guests are boys ages six and under? Those kinds of guests require detailed cleaning and de-cluttering to protect them even when you know you’ll have to clean up after they leave!

Long story, but my brother and his wife currently have guardianship of their grandchildren by her son. Life for them since last year has been one big roller coaster of love and chaos as they settle into parenting little ones again. But despite the challenges, they are organized enough to take long road trips to visit us and provide themselves with a little change of scenery—and a few more adults to help—for a few days from time to time. This visit their son (not the children’s parent) and his fiancée were able to come along, too, and provide a few more helping hands.

Can you say full house? Even when we weren’t all busy looking for kids’ shoes and cups and the grandparents busy changing diapers and rocking little ones to sleep, we still had to figure out how to schedule all our showers and get something to eat that would work for everyone.

In the midst of baseball games, mountain train and car trips, and visits to the park, I had a birthday, too. We managed to celebrate my day, as well as my kids’ (earlier) birthdays with one big family get-together in Sherman’s parents’ much bigger back yard. Thanks to Sherman’s brothers and their rental company, Allwell Rents, we even had enough tables, chairs, dishes, glasses, silverware, and linens—as well as a Sno Cone machine, which was a big hit with all the little boys.

After all our guests left our home the next morning, I surveyed the damage but didn’t find much. Other than disinfecting tables and chairs and washing towels and sheets, we didn’t have much extra work to do. As crazy as their visits are, it is well worth it to see my family and to get to know these little boys who are the apples of their grandparents’ eyes despite all the extra work. No, my sister-in-law doesn’t drive the sports car she once envisioned and my brother doesn’t get to keep his shirts as clean as he’d like, but they do get a lot of (sticky) hugs and kisses every day. What they do matters very much—to these boys and to the people who will encounter those boys as they grow into young men.

Though our home officially houses four adults in the summers, it is mostly quiet because our kids are busy working, going to school, socializing, and taking their own road trips. We don’t do this kind of busy very often.

Which, combined with our recent family fun, might explain why I felt a little overwhelmed by the thousands of people at Wednesday’s Independence Eve Celebration in Denver’s Civic Center Park. The next day, in pursuit of a more solitary activity, Sherman and I headed into Staunton Ranch Colorado State Park for a holiday hike—as did everyone and his/her dog it seemed. The brand new beautiful park was quite popular!

If we wanted solitary, we were going to have to find it at home—which we did. Other than the oohs and ahs we heard from other backyards, we felt alone in the dark while sitting on the still sun-warmed sidewalk where we watched to the east. One show over, we stood and became transfixed by another show lighting up the skies to the south. Being by ourselves felt good for the night.

But in the end, I’m glad we’re not really alone—especially in our times of need. Quiet, still, and apart or loud, crazy busy, and together, we are family—as were so many of those other people we encountered listening to the symphony and enjoying the concert’s light show and fireworks on Wednesday or out hiking Thursday afternoon or responding in unison at each new burst of color and light Fourth of July night. Despite the messiness, our connections make us human.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Where did this month go? Well, once we heard my brother Scott and his wife Lori were coming to visit with their four grandchildren—all boys, aged six and under!—we had to get in gear to have a house that would be safe enough for the youngest two who were not quite two and half years and 15 months. The first challenge was dealing with our non-stop messes of dog hair, dirt, and mud, especially in this in-between weather season.

But beyond that we had to think more about real hazards. It’s one thing to have to re-develop those eyes in the back of the head for watching a puppy—it’s entirely another thing when the stakes are so high because you are dealing with little people who also put everything in their mouths. At least we already had gates thanks to the dogs and their muddy paws.

Seriously, although we had twins, at least we weren’t outnumbered by our children when we were together. Dealing with four boys is nonstop chaos. We had all these ideas for getting out of the house, but had forgotten how much work it is just to get out of the house! Thank goodness I had saved the blocks and the Brio train set—although it would have been a good idea to have cleaned the pieces before I had all the “free” help beside me launching the pieces into the bathtub and the surrounding areas. And then there was Jackson to help by playing with the older boys with Nerf guns and the game systems and Christiana to do some artwork with them.

Thankfully only the youngest got sick—pink eye and a double ear infection. When the medications kicked in, he forgot his troubles and got happy once more. With vigorous hand washing and sterilizing, we all stayed healthy and thus happier too.

So glad our winter weather stayed away until after they left. Not only did they have safe travels, but we also had the great outdoors, as in visiting Red Rocks Amphitheatre, or the minor outdoors, as in the local playground, for running off a lot of energy. There is no way our modest 1940s house was up to containing five adults, four kids, and two dogs all day and all night.

Furgus loved the kids way more than they loved him—you can only take so many wet willies, you know? However, he didn’t care what they did to him—he just loved the attention. On the other hand, due to Sam’s unknown shady past, he stayed in his crate or played outdoors with Furgus, coming out to socialize freely only after everyone born in this millennium had fallen asleep.

We adults also snuck off—women on one day and men on another—to get incredible Chinese foot and body reflexology massages at Ying’s Hairstyles here in Englewood. Too bad Scott and Lori can’t get those every week for dealing with the challenges of caring for all that energy—the energy the boys require of them and the energy the boys have day in and day out!

Yes, the visit required a lot of energy from those of us who aren’t used to dealing with little ones every day, but the children also brought a lot of joyful, youthful energy into our normally quiet home.

And when the whirlwind of their energy and activity left our home, we took off with our own family on our own high-energy adventure to ski at Copper Mountain for a couple days. Thanks especially to all the gorgeous snow that dumped on the slopes while we were there, skiing required even more of our energy than usual.

Even home again, the activities kept up as Sherman and Christiana had to plow the snow that dumped in Denver and she and her boyfriend finished their spring break here with us. By the time she and her friends left to return to school, we were exhausted.

Between all the young kids and older kids here over the last week or so, I’d lost a lot of my own energy. So yesterday I focused on recharging my batteries with a hot bath, a good book, some yoga and ZUMBA, and a good night’s sleep. Which means I’m ready to run—literally—just as soon I finish writing this and just as the sun has warmed up enough to melt last night’s ice from my paths.

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

Wondering where I went? Yes, I really did go away. Sometimes you just have to get out of Dodge, even if you’re just going on a classic road trip across the wide open spaces of the Midwest prairie.

Sherman, Jackson, and I left Thursday night for Oklahoma to see my brother Scott and his family. After so many years of having to come to Colorado because Mom was here, they thought we ought to go there. True enough. Although Scott hosted a family reunion in a state park in Oklahoma a few years ago, I hadn’t been to their home since Mom and I came to nephew Chris’ high school graduation in 2007. The others hadn’t visited since 2002. Yikes.

As Scott and his wife Lori will tell you, Oklahoma City is way too far from Denver—approximately 11 to 12 hours by car. That’s just inconvenient, even it if it’s doable.

Although Sherman and I had made it to meet with everyone at Chris’ college in McPherson, Kansas twice in the last year and half, both for one of his football games and for his graduation, they still wanted us to visit them in their home, meet their new grandkids, see their remodeling, and partake of their hospitality.

Check, check, check, and check.

After my road-trip-related injury last year, I have become quite afraid about hitting the road, let alone about pushing through the drive in one day. That’s why we planned to spend the first night along the way since we weren’t leaving until a couple hours after Sherman got out of work. Still, we hadn’t planned to sit on the Interstate for an hour. We weren’t even stuck in the city, but we got to turn off the engine and wait anyway until a semi had been moved off the road. So we got in an impromptu picnic and got to read together while watching the almost full moon rise on a clear night made for driving.

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

When we pulled into our motel at 2:30 a.m. (lost an hour to a time zone change too), we just crept in quietly and fell asleep. Too bad our neighbor didn’t worry about creeping out, huh? Wouldn’t be a road trip if you couldn’t listen to the alarm in the next room beeping—ignored for at least 20 minutes or so which meant we got to get on the road sooner than planned. Yes, when Mr. Snooze-through-the-alarm did get up, then he took his motorcycle (Muffler? What muffler?) for a spin around the parking lot before parking it again and cranking a classic rock station. I like Z Z Top, really, but not as my wake-up call!

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert. This, however, is not normal!

Rise and shine, right? So we did, hitting city limits before afternoon rush hour, but, maybe taking the wrong turn and getting to experience rush hour anyway—another classic road trip experience—from my past anyway.

This was the first time in a long time we got together for no particular reason without extra tasks beyond shopping, visiting landmarks, eating out, going to church, hanging out at the house and backyard with their extended family, and watching movies. No agenda really. Had time to sit around and watch everyday living—even got to see both the dogs and the grandkids on a mission to do in tufts of decorative grass planted by my brother—the obsessive gardener/lawn guy—in apparent denial of the lifestyle he really lives. Anyone taking bets on how long they last?

Was good to leave town and do nothing out of the ordinary—well, other than practice patience while sitting on the highway and with our aforementioned motel neighbor.

I think I remember normal. Turns out, normal is good.

Recent Comments

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 304 other followers

Blogging AtoZ Challenge 2012