Late last year when my sister was living with me, we were discussing our grandparents and parents. All are gone now but they live on in our memories and we shared a few choice reminders that only siblings can relate to.
Around this same time, a friend of ours started a new job. She lives with her elderly father and is his primary care-giver. Although Grandpa Bob is in his 80’s, his mind is still sharp and he is very active. Devorah’s new job meant that she would have to leave him for at least 8 hours a day. She carefully set up her schedule so she could be with him in the mornings and could join him for his main meals of the day; breakfast and lunch. Dinner was something he could heat up on the stove and since he goes to bed early, he would be fine until she came home late at night.
Zanne and I popped in for dinner with him once a week or so to provide entertaining company.
Around Thanksgiving, our little local elementary school puts on a big feast for all the grandparents in town. Devorah would be at work so Zanne and I volunteered to accompany Grandpa Bob to the luncheon. When we arrived to pick him up, he was all dressed in crisp, clean clothes, sitting with his cane and cap by the door.
We drove down the road about a mile to the school and I pulled into the “drop off” area. Zanne hopped out to assist Grandpa Bob while I went to park. When I met them, they were just reaching the front door. We were greeted by two giggling girls decked out in their finest party dresses and shiny shoes. Two young boys waited near by, equally primped but very self-conscious. The girls led us into their school, proudly giving us the tour and pointing out the artwork on the walls. We were seated at a table near the middle of the gymnasium/lunch room with a good view of everyone. Such a stark contrast of youth and age.
Grandpa Bob moved to town less than a year ago but already seemed to know or be known by lots of folks. He is a big walker, when the weather permits, so many folks stopped by to welcome him. He introduced my sister and I as his “lady friends” with a wink. As the tables filled we got to know the other five people who joined our table. All were long-time residents of the town and were interested in who we were and how we were related to Grandpa Bob. We explained we had no grandparents of our own but were lucky enough to “borrow” Grandpa Bob on occasion.
Grandpa Bob entertains us with stories of his late wife, his many homes, kids, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. At times the memories become fuzzy or mixed up, especially if he has been alone for a while, but his joy and enthusiasm never wane. Zanne and I often spoke, upon leaving an visit with him, of how much we would love to sit and share stories with our own parents or grandparents. Our elders are the keepers of the memories. I look forward to being that.