So much has changed. Weekends used to be for fun. Now Saturday is no different from any other day except that the television programing includes less news and more sports. I don’t watch that much so it doesn’t matter. When we retired my husband and I did lazy things like pontoon rides on the lake and a lot of patio sitting. We got used to just the two of us at home and not having a schedule. Now we have our grandson living with us along with his dog; we have become great-grandparents and spend some of our time spoiling that baby. We had plans to remodel part of the house, but that didn’t work out and now we will just maintain until the time comes to move on.
For a while after I retired I spent time with my daughter doing common things like lunch and shopping. We went to her daughter’s high school soccer games and planned holidays together. We went on vacation to New Hampshire to visit my son’s family.
Then we began spending time going to her doctor appointments and navigating the disability system for her. I began to go over to her house to help with cleaning up and making meals. We made plans for when she felt better. She didn’t feel better for very long or very often. Then she called to tell me she was in the hospital and they said she had congestive heart failure. That night she underwent major emergency surgery and was put on machines to keep her heart working as she was transported to a university hospital and placed in cardiac intensive care. For ten days we went from despair to hope to panic to hope again and finally, even with the best care available her heart stopped never to beat again.
Life is so different now. Her children, twenty-five year old son and twenty-one year old daughter still very much needed their mother. I cannot be that for them, but I try to be as much support as I can. My grandson also lost his father to suicide four years ago leaving him an adult orphan. He was struggling living on his own so has come to share our home for a while to get on his feet. When I am feeling selfish I hope he stays forever. My granddaughter was pregnant when her mom died and had her baby six months later. The great granddaughter is fourteen months old now and another baby girl is expected in December. I know our granddaughter will be a fantastic mother to both, but it’s going to be hard and I hope I am strong enough to help.
My son is half way across the country from us so we miss him too. We talk on the phone and visit every summer with him, his wife and two boys. I wish we were closer, but his work is there and our home is here. We make the best of it.
My daughter was fully disabled for more than two years before she died and her husband had no money. My husband and I paid for her burial and have financially assisted her children as they get started in adult life. So, not as much money for vacations and house upgrades. We consider this an investment in their future.
So, life is so different now. Both empty and full at the same time. Nothing can fill the empty place where my child used to be. Every square foot of our house is in use and most of my hours are filled with family and their wants and needs. I am grateful that I am needed and useful instead of constantly grieving alone.