I love my girls.
OK, that’s a given.
But today I had one of those brilliant, heart-busted-open moments where I realized that maybe, just maybe, I haven’t screwed up these amazing little beings that we brought into this world. In fact, maybe we’re doing this family thing right.
My girls are 9 and 10. They’re at the prime age to hang out with friends, try out their independence, and stretch those wings. With my husband away this weekend, we had a girls weekend with a lot of time to have friends over (and oh, did they), go to friends’ houses (ditto), and have carpet picnics at dinnertime with movies on the tube.
In the middle of this no-holds-barred social fest, my 10-year-old informed me that she wanted to see her great-grandmas this weekend. She wanted to make them something special and get dressed up and go visit them.
My grandmothers both moved out of their longtime homes over the summer. It was time for them both to be somewhere with more medical support at hand and a social circle that didn’t require a car to reach. There was some relief to seeing them make this decision, because it’s worrisome to find yourself unable to reach your elderly grandmother by phone during a storm to find out if she has power, lights, heat, if a tree fell on her house. And beyond that, those little daily rituals like climbing on a stool to reach the microwave above the stove were getting positively scary from our end.
But there was also grief in them making this move. I had to admit that, at 94- and 95-years-old, my beloved grandmothers really are getting older. And while they didn’t move very far away, they are farther than they were before. My girls were used to going over frequently to visit, to take them grocery shopping, to hang out while they played their weekly Scrabble game together. (Yes, my parents’ mother-in-laws are best of friends! It’s a very cool thing.)
We miss them. And it’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of work, school, after-school activities, and friends, and then realize days have gone by without a visit to the great-grandmas. So I love that my girls organized a trip to the grocery store this morning to get the kind of bread they know their great-grandmas like so they could make tea sandwiches — peeled and seeded cucumbers sliced thin, cream cheese, sea salt on very thin, soft bread. And that they got dressed up in their Sunday best to look nice. My 10-year-old wore her new fancy shoes. Green leather sandals with a low heel. 70-year-old green leather sandals with a low heel that her great-grandmother, a WWII veteran, brought back with her from Italy when she was briefly stationed there on her way back from India. Shoes that she kept in pristine condition before handing them down to us, a fact that instilled no small bit of fear in me, because my kids play hard and historically, we are not kind to shoes. And these are historic shoes. But she’s kept them in the same pristine shape for her great-grandmother and she wore them today so her great-grandmother could see that.
This care for their great-grandmothers was not lost on the other residents when we went to visit today. In both places, the girls got stopped several times to be given compliments on being good great-granddaughters. And it really brought it home to me, especially being right before the holidays, that we are so lucky. We were able to keep them close enough to visit. We have the means and motivation to do so. Not all the residents, our elders, get that. Nor do their families.
We can’t replace family visits. But we can bring a little love to someone who has lived a full life and is feeling alone at the holidays. I credit this idea to my girls, and they have already started working on this project. They would like to give a handcrafted holiday card to each and every resident of the two facilities where their great-grandmothers now live. We’re looking to collect 200 cards. If we collect more, we’ll share the love to even more local nursing homes. This is a great way for kids of all ages to join together in a community service project that allows them to send some love out into their community.
Colchester Library has graciously given us space to hold a community card-creating event on December 5, from 9:00am until noon. We will provide crafting materials and community; you bring your kiddos and their creativity.
You can RSVP to the event via our Facebook event page.
We are also accepting donations toward crafting materials if you can’t be there in person but want to help. Click here to donate via PayPal. You’re entire donation will be used towards this endeavor.