Aging Grandparents and A Grand Grandson


He sat next to me on the plane today. Was late boarding. Turns out he was standby, had missed 2 earlier flights–needed to get back to the east coast after coming briefly and unexpectedly to see his very ill grandmother in Nevada.

He also needed to sit back and unwind but didn’t think he could. He’d already been at the airport for hours and it was only 10 am. After this short flight, he hoped there would be standby room on the next flight that would get him to Philadelphia, in time to take one more short flight home before that little airport shuts down for the night and precludes take off from Philly. And he has work tomorrow. Never-the-less, this visit was worth the inconvenience.

He’s college age, I think. Is working full-time at a good job. Last Wednesday afternoon an unexpected phone call with information that his grandmother had a cancer diagnosis, and the probability of a short time to live, catapulted him to action. He talked about how much he loved his grandmother; about his getting on the plane to Nevada the next morning–standby; he just had to come, he said.

I think this was his first year working at his job. Clearly he must have used up most of his personal days with this trip, but I doubt he cared. I think he would have moved heaven and earth to be at his grandmother’s side. And his devoted grandparents, “soul-mates–married over 50 years,” were now separated: his grandfather at home, his grandmother at the hospital where she would be for three weeks of chemo, already begun.

He related how she brightened up when he arrived. Upon questioning, he said he was her favorite. Obviously he adored her. He thought his presence made an important difference, adding “it might sound strange,” but he had this feeling–that she was actually getting better. He said it was hard to explain.

Before the announcement to turn off all cell phones was made, he had a text on his cell phone. He moved it over to me and said “look”–TEXT

Don’t grandmothers say–all the time–that being with grandchildren is the best!  How often do they spontaneously pull out their pictures, talk about their accomplishments, or about their new jobs or upcoming marriages? Yes, grandchildren are good medicine. From infancy on they add to our parents lives, helping them age well.

And who could ask for a better grandson!

(Text used with permission. Double-click to enlarge.)


Aging Parents: 6 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts–Exciting, Entertaining, Practical, Easily-Obtainable–update 12/18/13

Need a last-minute gift for an older person without the enduring the hectic last-minute crowds?  Here’s my short list.  It highlights exciting, pleasurable and practical gifts that can help parents and grandparents age well.

  • Lottery tickets, whether they are the scratch-off or wait-for-selection-of-the-All lit up on Christmas Evewinning numbers kind, add excitement to life.
  • A drive with you to see the holiday decorations. Especially at night, when many older people are insecure about going out, the light displays are a great treat.
  • Open Table gift card simple, free sign up. You select restaurant (from ***** on down, in 33 cities), select card design, and amount of $ you wish to spend. More info: (888) 503-7558 or Gift card emailed to you to print out that same day. Many older people prefer their largest meal at lunch for various reasons; whatever meal, they can invite friends if you provide enough $.  
  • Netflix conveniently provides seniors, who don’t go out to the movies, many hours of entertainment.
  • Filling the car with gas for a senior on fixed income, or helping with other such essentials is a welcome gift.  While shopping and taking out my led pocket magnifying glass to help the saleswoman read the care label on a coat, an 81-year-old lady, buying a jacket for her granddaughter, joined the conversation. When I asked her what she’d like for Christmas, she quickly replied “my health,” then added “and someone filling up my gas tank….I just bought gas and it’s so expensive.”
  • An IOU to take non-driving seniors shopping/to the doctor etc. and back.

While Netflix comes with a gift card, and lottery tickets speak for themselves, making a card for the last two gifts only requires a recipe/index card or a piece of paper onto which a picture of a car (gas-tank side showing?) is pasted.  Happy gift-giving.

PS  While not easily obtainable (because it takes a while to get), an appointment at one of the leading hospitals’ geriatric departments may be the best gift you can ever give a parent with health issues. Click the link and read Karen’s short letter about her mother’s experience.