Monday, September 3, 2012
I'm off in Kansas, without the kids or my husband. This is where my family comes from, and my grandparents are here in a nursing home. (The photo above is of a giant blow-up of the college mascot in the hall of the home).
My grandfather, above, and my mother and grandmother, below.
They are facing the end, however long that may take, and we are looking at hospice care for my grandfather. This brings the whole family up against our mortality. My great-grandmother died in that same nursing home, just 6 doors down from where my grandparents are now. We walk past "her" old door as we go down to their room to visit them, and I keep imagining she's still in there, her amazing imperious ancient self. My roots to this land are dying off and the ties are being severed as each bit is lost: great-grandparents, their old farms and homes, my grandparents' home that my mother grew up in and that they stayed in until this nursing home, and now the grandparents themselves.
At the same time, here I am without my children. Most of my generation made this trip without our spouses, partners, or children, and there has been a noticeable regression in our behavior. Here we are, being "the kids" again, and expecting our parents' generation to take care of us. And they are facing the death of their parents and the question of how they want to face this aging process themselves.
Generation to generation, the bonds of love and care pass back and forth. Someday that will be my mother who needs my care. Someday it will be me.