90 years and still counting


Yesterday was my grandfather’s 90th birthday. He and my grandmother live in Oregon, and are currently still in their home, although it sounds like that might be changing soon. My aunt, who lives close by, and lives on a considerable amount of land, build a small cottage on the property with the intention that my grandparents would eventually move into it.

Here is the thing. Or things. My grandfather, who was the first generation in his family to be born in this country, who was raised by some old school Italians in New York, who was the first to graduate from college, who became a successful business man, working for a large corporation for most of his career, well, he is just not really into the idea of beign dependent on other people. I can’t blame him, but he is NINETY years old. And has Parkinson’s. It is time to accept a little help.

The other factor is my aunt, his daughter, is kind of a nut. I mean that in the most loving way possible, smiley face smiley face. She has 8 children. There have been times in my life when we would visit them, and honestly, if I didn’t know there were 8 kids in the house, I would NOT know there were 8 kids in the house. They have always been a bunch of quiet talkers.

My aunt provides daycare for two of her grandchildren at least part of the time, and takes on many many many more projects than she should. I think my grandparents feel like one of those projects. But mostly I think it is my grandfather’s unwillingness to give up some of his freedom, and my grandmother’s fear of giving up her freedom and her stuff.

Believe me, I know about stuff. I have always had a lot of stuff. I like to have it around, where I can see it, touch it and it reminds me of where I got it, what I was doing at that time in my life. Having Cooper has forced me to simplify my life to a certain extent, to choose my stuff more judiciously, to make it matter if I am going to hang onto it. When you have lived in a house as long as my grandparents have, you collect a lot of stuff. You get used to having it around. It is scary at any time to make a move, but especially when you are acknowledging that you are frail, you are incapable on a certain level of taking care of yourself any longer. It is an acknowledgement of your mortality, which at 90, is probably lurking in the next room, whispering sweet nothings to you in the night. It has to be a little unsettling!

I hope they do make the move, so that it doesn’t have to happen in a moment of crisis. That they aren’t forced to consider a more drastic measure instead, like a nursing home. That could still end up being a possibility, but this step would be more comfortable in the interim.

I hope it was a great day, Tony, and that you have at least a few more birthdays in you! We love you.

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1 Comment

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One response to “90 years and still counting

  1. Thanks on his behalf for the birthday thoughts. His new laptop is not connected to the web correctly right now. One correction – he did not go to college at all. He is the ultimate salesman. Note: I believe that going through the “stuff” of a parents’ life is part of the grieving/healing process.

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