I celebrate my Birthday on Christmas, and this past Christmas was not just any birthday, it was a big one, maybe the big one. I expected 50 to be something different, something more substantial. I thought maybe I was entering a new phase in life. As paraphrased in a Victor Hugo quote, I am now in the youth of old age, and I just assumed that somehow this birthday would be different that things would change. But the day happened just as every other birthday that I can remember; my family helped me to celebrate and feel special on my day, but in the end there was not a major transformation. Maybe age really is just a number. But then it happened…. One week later my life was forever altered. Not only did I become a first time grandmother, but we inherited Papa.
Papa is my 80 year old Father in Law, and has been in my life for over 35 years. He is kind and gentle, he is sweet and funny, he is humble and uncomplicated. My own dad passed away when I was very young, and I met Papa just a few years later. He became the father I sorely missed. Papa is recently widowed, has moderate memory loss, and was coming to live with us.
On January 1st, as other people were sleeping in after a night of ringing in the New Year, I was flying across country making arrangements to bring Papa home. It is amazing how many lists can be created on a flight from Virginia to Arizona. I had countless lists going at the same time: Things to Pack – immediate; Things to Pack – later; Cross Country Travel Needs; Preparing the Vehicle for a Cross Country Trip; Closing the House; Selling the House; Doctors; Medications… I even had a Master List of all my lists. I am happy to say, in the middle of frantically typing my lists at airports or on airplanes I was able to find an escape to calm myself. As soon as I started feeling overwhelmed, which happened quite a few times that day, I would pull out my phone and look at, or in most cases show off, photographs of my beautiful Granddaughter who was only hours old. I now wish I could thank every one of the strangers sitting near me who goggled over the new and absolutely perfect addition to our family.
We are now back in Virginia and adjusting to our new life. Papa is acclimating to his new surroundings and we are modifying our lifestyle from being Empty Nesters to what I have personally phrased as being Golden Nesters. I want to make sure that not only do we enjoy this transformation that really is occurring as we begin the youth of our old age, but that Papa is both happy and heard. I want to make sure that Papa’s memories are maintained and shared with others. So, I have started jotting down ideas and making more lists, with my first record being some of the wise advice I have received from people in the past few weeks.
My brother told me to listen for the Eleventh Story. He has eternal patience in listening to people tell the same ten stories countless times waiting for the hidden gem of the eleventh story as it starts to develop. I am sure I will hear stories one through ten countless times but I will always try to keep my ears open for number eleven. Thank you, Scott.
I sent my cousin a text last week with the excitement of a tidbit of information that she was not aware of about Papa. Cindi is an educator and has built her life with the thrill of learning. She asked me to take advantage of all of the stories and share them with our family. I plan to do that.
A sweet coworker listened to me talk about Papa after I cornered her in the kitchen. She seemed truly interested in our travels and suggested I start a blog to keep his stories intact. I informed her that was a bit overwhelming, but thanks Madeleine; you really did have a great idea.
Lastly, we spoke to a very dear friend last week who is in the midst of beginning a new undertaking of his own. He reminded me that as early adults we felt fearless and could do anything, but that should not change as we age. We still can do anything! Chris, I look forward to our call every couple weeks to discuss both our new adventures, and that just maybe I have a few words in me that people would be interested to read.
So begins….Raising Papa.