People may think that having children is a way of staying young, or reliving our childhood, but in reality, having children ages the parents. They go from being free from responsibility to being surrounded by responsibilities. Diapers, feedings, and lots of tears give way to school days, after school sports, and homework…which gives way to the terrible teens, dating, and driving. By the time they have graduated and moved out, you tend to feel either old, or overwhelmed at the thought of an empty nest, wondering where all the years have gone. Ok, those years weren’t that bad, but if all that happened in a short time, you would feel completely shell shocked. Being a parent is a big life change. Of course, all too soon, those years are over, and our children are grown up. Suddenly, when we are once again free from responsibility, we just don’t feel the same about it anymore.
Then, just as suddenly our kids bless us with grandchildren, and in the absence of the parental responsibility, we find out that it isn’t our kids that keep us young, but our grandkids. We find ourselves going outside and playing with the kids again, and not just pushing them in the swings. Sometimes we have to wonder what we were thinking. When we try to do cartwheels, or skateboard, or jumping on the trampoline, and realize that maybe we were being young, or maybe we were being foolish. When my grandkids were first getting cell phones, they brought me into the 21st century where a cell phone was not just for talking on, because if I wanted to staying touch with them, I had to text. It was the thing. Thankfully that wasn’t dangerous. Then came Facebook, which I originally got of to keep up with my teenaged grandchildren’s busy lives…I know, I know, my Facebook use has exploded from there…what can I say. The things we do for our grandkids…right. But then, I would do anything for them, and I think they know that. Basically, what I’m saying is that my grandchildren have kept me young. How amazing is that.
That is what my cousins, Terry and Shannon Limmer have found out too. With grandchildren from wagon to bicycle age, they have re-experienced all of those life events that kids go through. One day, Terry got the idea to see if he could still ride a bike. Supposedly, it’s something you never forget how to do, right. The biggest problem I can see here is that Terry is pretty tall, and his granddaughter, Trinity’s bicycle is pretty little, since Trinity and her twin brother, Triston Patsie are just 9 years old. Nevertheless, Terry proved that he’s not old. He’s still got it, and that includes a bicycle that is far too little for his tall frame. Shannon also proves to the kids that she can still play, and she can either pull or be pulled in their wagon. Their play with the kids is that of adults going through a second childhood. It’s what we do for our grandchildren, because our grandchildren help us to be young again.
When I first became acquainted with my cousin, Betsy’s daughter, Autumn, I immediately liked her. It’s odd I suppose, not to know your cousin’s daughter, or at least not very well, but in big families, that is how it goes sometimes. The family just gets so big that you can really lose touch, even when you all live in the same town. I was trying to connect with all the family members to get information for a book with family information in it so that we could all at least know addresses, phone numbers, family members, and birthdays. It was a monumental effort, and I needed the help of as many family members as I could find.
That was the main reason I connected with everyone on Facebook, but then, something amazing happened. I started getting to know the people in my family…people I had never known before. That was when I met Autumn. A sweet spirit, I could see that she had a heart of gold, and that she was very loyal to those she cared about. Autumn was the type of person who extends the hand of friendship easily…much more easily than I do, because I am a little shy. She has no such problem though, and every time I see her, she is quick to say hello and visit with me, and other family members. What a blessing that is to me.
As one of the older cousins, I suppose I am viewed as being in the same group as the aunts and uncles, and to many of the kids, that could mean that I am viewed as boring and outdated, but that is not the way Autumn treats me. She makes a point of saying hello to me and making me feel special. How sweet is that? I think that is just the way she is with everyone, because she just seems to come by it so naturally. When you have made up your mind to treat people great, no matter who they are…young or old…you have created, in yourself, a great person. And, that is the person Autumn is. If you don’t know her…you are missing out!! Today, Autumn is sweet 16!! Autumn, I hope you have the most amazing sweet 16th birthday ever!! Happy birthday Autumn!! We love you!!
My mother-in-law and father-in-law have known each other for a lifetime. Their mothers, Nettie and Vina were friends when the kids, Walt and Joann were just toddlers. Nettie and Vina became friends and spent time together while their husbands worked on the ranch. At that time Walt was 3 and Joann was 1. When nap time rolled around, they would put both babies in the same crib, and so years before they would marry, Walt and Joann slept together, a fact which has been laughed about by their family members ever since, much to the chagrin of Joann, who was never sure she thought that type of teasing was very funny.
My father-in-law speaks proudly of the years of marriage that they have mastered…63 years today. All those years of working together, raising a family, weathering the storms of life and loss, and making the journey toward growing old together. So many plans, so many dreams. A lifetime of making plans. For most of those years, my mother-in-law kept the house, and my father-in-law worked. It was the way many it was back in the late 40’s and early 50’s…before women’s lib and feminism came into being and so many women turned to careers. I’m not saying it was better or worse then…just a different time. And it was the way my in-laws wanted their life to be.
As with many things in life, sometimes things don’t turn out just exactly as you had planned. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in about 2004, and since that time her abilities have deteriorated…but not the love that has endured through all the trials, all the difficult times, the loss of daughter, and granddaughter, and parents. The love has endured. Now that my mother-in-law is no longer able to do the cooking and washing, my father-in-law has taken over those duties.
People never know how they will react to the illness of a loved one…especially long term illness. Some people leave, but most long term marriage partners stay. Still, not all people with an illness like Alzheimer’s Disease can expect to be living at home with the one they love. So many partners feel like they have already lost their loved one, so a nursing home won’t matter. And so many people have no other options, because there is not enough help. And even though they love their spouse, there are no other choices. It is a difficult decision to make and one that could still be in my in-laws’ future. There is no right or wrong choice…just no other choice.
No matter what the future holds for my mother-in-law and father-in-law, I know that their love will endure. When she no longer knows who he is or who her children are…the love will endure. He will still go see her as often as he can get someone to take him, because she is the other half of him…she is the heart of him. When she is ill, he worries, when she is difficult, he sweet talks her (after he fights with her a little), when she is having a good day, he praises her…because after all these years, the love endures.