Right before I was born, many, many years ago, my grandfather passed away. Shortly after I was born, also many, many years ago, my other grandfather passed away. The saddest part of this story is that I never knew either of my grandfathers. The blessing of it was the fact that I spent far more time with both my grandmothers than I might have otherwise. One lived next door to us while I was growing up, and stayed with us in our home on occasion. My other grandmother began living with us six months out of the year at first, then came to live with us full-time.
I grew up thinking this was the way all families lived, generation with generation, eating meals together, going to church together, celebrating holidays, sneaking in for good-night hugs and kisses. Imagine my surprise when I went to friends’ houses and no grandparents lived there! No aunts or uncles staying while they recuperated from surgery or an illness, no cousins bunking in for a month until the semester ended.
The multi-generational living situation was much more common then than it is now. Sometimes it feels as if we all could use the benefit of it coming back into vogue. Sure, there is a certain lack of privacy involved, but there is also a feeling of stability, of a solid foundation that isn’t going anywhere. There are always the times when boundaries have to be laid out, but there are also those times when all you want to make things better is a grandma’s hug or a late night talk about something important.
Today, costs of long-term care, assisted and independent living facilities, and maintaining two households, can be exorbitant. So, the question is, if and when the time comes for you to make the decision about moving your parents or grandparents into your home, or you moving in with them, what will you do? Will you share your home, your meals, your life? Will you share your blanket?
The decision is very difficult. It can lead to stress and strain. It can also lead to joy and fulfillment. I have vivid childhood memories of playing with my grandmother’s makeup and smearing on that bright red lipstick while she cooked dinner. I had regular card games with my other grandmother, and when she came in to tell me goodnight, she always said goodnight to the teen idol of the moment whose poster was on my wall. Without our living situation, without my parents deciding to share their blanket, my siblings and I would never had enjoyed those gifts to the degree we were able.
So what will you do? Will you share your blanket?