A lovely lady died last week. Her name was Kitty and she was a mom, grandmother, and great grandmother.
I met Kitty through her daughter many, many years ago. It is this daughter and her family that triggered this subject on my blog today. It was the devotion of this family that garners my respect. They kept their mother in her home through difficult circumstances until her death last week.
Kitty always had a smile and a kind word for everyone. Her devotion to her family was undeniable. She leaves a legacy of two daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom were by her side at her last hours even though some had to travel a distance to be there.
When Kitty’s health began to fail her oldest daughter left her life to move in with her mother to take care of her. She was there 24/7, only taking a few days here and there to go back to her home. There is another silent hero in this and that is my friend’s partner of 30 some years who supported her actions. This wasn’t just for a few short weeks but for a few years. The entire family rallied around Kitty to keep her happy, comfortable and in her home even as some confusion set in. It was not an easy task but their love for their mother fueled the decision.
Today I would like to honor this family with my words of respect and awe in the way they handled this difficult time in their lives. They honored a woman who gave them life, and they gave her life with their time until God chose to take her home.
Having lived in a household where my mother took care of her ailing mother I know the sacrifices that are made. The same thing happened in my husband’s family when they took care of his elderly grandparents with dementia. There are nights of no sleep, patience stretched slim and household chores, plus heavy lifting when loved ones can no longer carry their own weight when moving even a few steps.
The hard but easy choice for this family might have been a nursing home. Many of us make that decision and it might be the right choice for our loved ones or for ourselves. Each of us knows our limits and what we can or cannot do. We shouldn’t let anyone tell us the choice we make is wrong. We know ourselves and our family the best. Kitty’s family felt home was what they wanted for her.
Today our culture has the benefits of utilizing places that care for our elderly. Our parents and grandparents are cared for with staff who know how to navigate the road of old age. My mother and mother-in-law lived in these care facilities. I did not have the stamina to bring them into my home full time. That is why I admire families that make a commitment to those they love.
Before nursing homes and assisted living the young took care of the old. They took parents into their homes and blended them into their life. Growing up I didn’t give it a thought that we lived with my grandmother, or that my uncles lived with my other grandmother. I just thought it was the way it was. I had other relatives whose grandparents lived with them too.
We all have different journeys. We all make different choices that are right for us and those we love. It is your journey and you will know what is best for you.
There are many studies that prove the elderly love longer with strong family connections. In other cultures, it is not unusual for grandma and grandpa to live with their families. According to the Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, grandparents who look after their grandchildren have a lower risk of death. Mixing the young and old is healthy and this appeared to be true in Kitty’s case with her last smiles an indication that she felt loved with her family by her side.
Kitty you will be missed.