IT'S A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
I’m often reminded of the different perspectives we have at different times of our lives. For instance, growing up, my grandparents were always old. When I was five, they were old. When I was forty, my grandmother was definitely old.
As an adult, realizing my mother was old was a gradual thing. My father died suddenly in his early fifties, to me he was never old. It was at that point that I knew my mother would be getting old. One of my younger sisters threw my mother into the old mode within a few years of my fathers death. She thought my mother should sell her home and move in with her and her family. She worried about my mother’s well being. She thought my mother was old. This was her perspective at the time. My mother went on to live a very long life with a lucrative career in Real Estate, all by herself, squelching the perception that she was old.
When my mother passed away, two days short of her eightieth birthday, my daughter and her two children were staying with me in CA for a year. They are a military family and had been in Germany for over three years. Before Germany, they had been in El Paso for three years. Now her husband’s tour overseas was up and he was going to Korea for a year. I invited her and the kids to come stay with me in CA until he came back to the States. This was appealing to my daughter because she grew up in CA, and had friends and family there, including her own two grandmothers, her children’s great-grandmothers. And for me, having some grandchildren in CA was finally going to be a reality. The other grandchildren I had at the time were in Florida and Colorado.
My daughter and her kids arrived in December. In January, my children’s paternal grandmother passed away. We all attended the wake and funeral. My grandchildren, ages four and six did too, along with several cousins. For them, this was probably more like a wedding than a funeral. Getting dressed up, lot’s of food, cousins to play with all day, and adults that were preoccupied with each other.
My mother passed away three months later in April. She had been ill, but none of us expected her to pass when she did. So we have the same scenario again, the wake followed by the funeral the next day. Of course, there are the church services, but from a young child’s perspective there are also restaurants and cousins. Basically, for two kids who haven’t really been around extended family, except for brief vacations, this was yet another holiday.
The day after my mother’s funeral, I was laying on my bed with my granddaughter. We chatted about nothing in particular, just small talk, and maybe silly talk. As we lay there, my sweet granddaughter was rubbing my cheek with her hand, and smiling. I remember thinking how adorable she was with her deep dimples and how much I loved being with her like that. Just lying there in our own little world.
Still patting my cheek and smiling, we had this conversation:
Granddaughter: Well, grandma, you’re next
Granddaughter (louder): You’re next
Me: Next what?
Granddaughter: You know, die
Me: What? I’m not old
Granddaughter: Yes, you are grandma
Me: Well, can I wait until you graduate to die?
Granddaughter: (in her "get a grip on reality please" voice), Grandmaaaaa, REALLLLY!
That was seven years ago. So, see? It’s a matter of perspective.