Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gathering Around Grandpa, Kids and All

The whole family gathered together that Christmas. As soon as I unwrapped "Tuesdays With Morrie,” my teenaged sons snatched it from my hands.

Tim and Jason started reading because they loved its author, the renowned sportwriter, Mitch Albom. They continued because the story of Albom’s renewed relationship with his college professor gripped them. Though set in the midst of suffering and death, the book exuded life. And yes, I finally got to read it.

Across the living room sat another reason for their interest in “Tuesdays with Morrie.” Grandpa was slumped in an oversized chair, his body sapped from the radiation he’d undergone to fight cancer. He’d lost so much weight! The unspoken question was, “How much longer will he live?”

During the next few days, I would ask the boys periodically, “What do you think of the book?” “What are your favorite parts?” They both liked Morrie’s non-funeral, a celebration of life where friends gathered to honor him before death.

In the ensuing year—Grandpa’s last on earth--all of his grandchildren showered him with love. Some gave hugs, others kisses, still others phone calls. But I’d like to think some of that contact came because of a little book called “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

How have you encouraged your children to be part of your aging parent’s world, even during difficult times? Author Doug Manning in "Parenting Our Parents" said he brought his grown son with him when he visited his father in the nursing home weekly. Three things happened: his aging father got a visit, which he needed; Doug and his son had some bonding time and third, Doug's example may mean that his son will visit him when he is old.

"Parenting Our Parents" is unfortunately out of print.

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