Years ago, I would have a dinner with my Dad around Christmas. Up to a couple years ago, I would have a dinner with my Mom or some friends and bring my Dad a plate of leftovers. Now, I can’t even do that. My Dad has very advanced Multiple Sclerosis, he lives in a retirement home and his hands aren’t even reliable enough to feed himself a meal anymore.
Now, we bring the kids over for presents and a visit. The kids enjoy visiting with him, I try to bring them every week or so (if we’re not sick). He loves seeing them grow and talks to them about all kinds of things. You see, he’s basically confined to a hospital bed but his mind is as sharp as ever.
He gives me money to buy presents for the kids. He says I know what they want and need better than he does. It’s probably true, I don’t know the last time he’s set foot in a toy store, probably before Jordan was born.
So, I go pick out presents for them from “Jerry Grandpa” as they call him. I bring them home and wrap them. We pack them up with our gifts for him and head over.
There’s not much that he needs or wants these days. He’s unable to use most things, he used to be really into golf and jigsaw puzzles. We usually give him pictures and handmade cards or art from the kids. Let’s face it, isn’t that what most grandparents want?
Jordan opened my Dad’s presents for him and showed them to him. One of the gifts was a personalized calendar with a bunch of pictures of the kids. I started that tradition for all of the grandparents last year and it was a huge hit. Jordan was very good about slowly turning each page and holding it up so Grandpa could see them.
Then the kids opened their gifts. They thanked Grandpa for everything and wanted to start playing. Because the gifts had a bunch of small pieces we decided it would be best to wait until we got home.
So instead, the kids asked if they could go to the nurses station to ask for water and a treat. They get spoiled when we go there, the nurses always offer them cookies and usually take them around the floor to say hi to the other residents.
We chatted while the kids went on their cookie hunt. We had missed a couple of weeks, mostly due to how busy we have been in December with the kids and the situation with the cats. We caught up on what has been going on. Eventually, the kids returned with their loot.
They read a bit (I keep books, crayons and colouring books there) and talked to Grandpa. After a while, Lincoln had had enough and we decided we should head home.
We brought back the now unwrapped gifts that we had brought with us. On the ride home I think about growing up with my Dad. I wish my kids could have seen him before the MS. He was very active and so good with teaching us when we were little. We went on hikes, explored tide pools, did puzzles and read books.
We spent our Saturdays at the mall “people watching” as he called it. We would pick someone who looked interesting (or not interesting) and make up a back story for them. It was fun and imaginative and taught us to look outside ourselves.
Hopefully he taught me enough. Maybe I can teach them the things he isn’t able to. I can show them the things he showed me. We will keep going for visits so he can tell them all his stories.
Make sure you spend time with your loved ones. If you don’t live close, there’s always facetime and phone calls. Don’t take people for granted.
If you missed some of the series check out the links below, and don’t forget to follow along right up to Christmas!