Thursday, March 29, 2007

Extended Family Thoughts

Our parents are all gone to be in Heaven now, enjoying a wonderful reunion with their spouses. This is a very comforting thought. It's also very comforting that we were able to be with all four in their last moments here on earth. All four were surrounded by their loved ones. So many people don't get to share those moments with their loved ones, so I feel very fortunate to have shared that important time with them.

Don't get me wrong, though. Even in the best of situations, watching a loved one take their last breath is not easy. I really don't know how people who don't have confidence in life after death can deal with it. All our family members have strong Christian beliefs, and we know we will be reunited with them in the future, through the grace of Jesus's death and resurrection. With Easter so close, and Daddy's death so recent, I'm reminded of this gift of grace many times every day.

I realize there are plenty of loving family members who have not been able to keep their loves ones at home, as we were able to do with three of our parents. I don't want to sound like I consider us "better" than those who decide the best decision for their parent's well being is to move them to a Nursing Home or Assisted Living facility. I'm just grateful that we could help them age in place.

In times past, it wasn't nearly as unusual for several generations to live in the same home. Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles typically were included as part of the nuclear family, providing ready help, advice, and extra loving relationships for the children. They didn't just move in when their own health was ruined, but lived together as strong members of the family unit for many years. I wonder if we will ever see a return to that sort of extended family dynamic in large numbers.

I had to travel all the way to Chicago to see my grandparents, but they were still a strong influence on me as a child. Did you, or do you, live in an extended family?


Norma said...

Visiting my grandparents (2 sets) was a Sunday afternoon ritual, and it also provided an opportunity to see aunts, uncles and cousins who were doing the same thing. My paternal grandmother died in 1983 and I still miss her. It's wonderful if you can provide an extended family for children so they can know other adults in a non-parental role.

Dirty Butter said...

How wonderful to have so much time with so many loving relatives! It almost has a Walton's sound to it.

Sharon Lynne said...

When my mother-in-law became unable to live alone, something surprising happened! The house next door went up for sale. So we moved her in next door. She was a great help with my two young boys--they would go over to grandma's to play Monopoly--giving me a break. I also helped care for her.
She has passed on to heaven, but I miss her.

You might be interested in my latest's not this topic, but it's about my grandma's old writing desk--I have a picture. (April 3 post)

Dirty Butter said...

It's funny how things can work out like that. When we were young marrieds, we intentionally didn't want to look for a house near our parents. Too independent! But your arrangement really was a Godsend for you all.

I'll take a peak at the desk soon, Sharon Lynne.

Janey Loree said...

I have had the blessing of living in an extended family off and on for the past 17 years!!! My sons and I have lived with my parents.

Being a single parent was not as hard and my sons did not have to be latch key kids. My parents and my sons helped me after having back surgery and I plan on helping my parents when they finally slow down so that I can!!!

Dirty Butter said...

I practically lived with my DD while she went through all her Peripheral Neuropathy problems last year, but we've never really lived with any relatives as a family, except as care givers. I was a latch key kid for awhile, and I'm sure your sons benefited by not having to come home to an empty house, Janey Loree.

bizwhiz said...

I knew a number of older folks who actually preferred to stay away from their children. Either because they perceived themselves to be a burden or they simply wanted an independent life. It turned rather ugly in one of the situations, with the children insisting that the parents stay with them, and the parents refusing to accede. In the end, out of respect, the old folks had their way. I wonder, if the parents were sickly or were in need of care, should the children act against their parents' wishes? A dilemma indeed.

Dirty Butter said...

My Daddy maintained his level of independence until he was over 101, but we moved my FIL in with us against his will in his 90's. Each situation is different, and you just have to pray long and hard and hope you're doing the right thing.