Monday, May 28, 2012

A visit with Grandma and Grandpa Olson

People always talk about "growing old together"
 and I've often thought about how it will be when Mark and I reach "the golden years" of our lives. 
Just how will we embrace it, what will our "mature" personalities be like and how we will treat each other.
After spending the past few days with my sweet parents, 
who are in their late eighties, I can only hope that we can be half as kind and gentle, 
and treat each other and all those around us 
with a third as much love and patience as my mother and father do. 
They truly have entered this stage of their lives with positive attitudes and humor 
as they have met the challenges that come with aging with immense grace and beauty.
 As many of you know, my dear mother, bless her heart, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago.
Her health has deteriorated to the point that she requires extra love and attention, 
which all falls on the shoulders of my dad with help from my siblings that live in the area.
I've always thought that my dad was "the greatest dad" and one of the most wonderful grandpas ever, 
but these last few years he has proved to be the kindest, 
most patient, loving husband to my mother, his sweetheart of almost 60 years!
It is inspiring to watch him take care of her every need, day and night, bathing and dressing her, 
combing her hair, making sure that she looks just as immaculate as if she did it herself.
He has also taken on all of the household duties, such as the shopping,
 cooking, cleaning, and he even does all the laundry,
chores that were strictly considered my mothers responsibility all these years. 
It is exhausting just watching him do it all, never complaining,
but rather he cheerfully takes care of all my mother's wants and needs,
 carrying on with his usual humor and fun, always a smile on his face, as if "all is well."
We went to church together on Sunday morning and attended the same ward that I did as a kid.
There are fewer and fewer of "the old timers" but it was great to hear Carol Ford play the organ, 
Carma Heywood lead the music and it was wonderful to get a hug from Milicent Matheson.  
Those are just some of my favorite ladies, who were my teachers, leaders 
and friends that I looked up to when I was a kid.
One of the reasons for my this trip was to help my dad drive up to Utah to visit my sister, Mary Ann.
My dad loves to escape the Arizona heat in the summer and retreat to Utah, 
where the weather is much more enjoyable.
But the idea of him driving alone with my mother was impossible, 
so when I heard him talking about going to Utah to be with Mary Ann 
for her next chemo treatment, that's when I offered to drive with him.
He, of course, didn't want to impose but I insisted
 and as the day grew closer to our departure,
call me crazy, but I became excited about our adventure.
 I found myself really looking forward to the scenic drive.
You see, it's been over 30 years since I have made that trek to Utah,
which as a child, I made numerous times with my family.
Traveling was quite the experience with a family of 10 
squished in our old yellow Vista Cruiser station wagon.
So the thought of having the entire back seat to spread out on 
and my parents all to myself the entire drive was an offer that I couldn't refuse!
We made a few stops along the way at some of the nostalgic 
and memorable places such as the Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort, 
which when a kid, I really thought that the mountain was made of real candy.
We drove through Fairview, my dad's hometown. 
We had to drive past my grandparent's property 
and stop to see the old barn that my grandfather built.
Just south of Provo, we drove through Mapleton, my mother's hometown, 
which sits at the base of Maple mountain. 
It was late in the day and with the sun setting, the light on the mountain
looked absolutely gorgeous! 
I quickly remembered why this is one of my favorite mountains.
This is the house that my grandparents home, where my mother grew up.
It's the cutest little house ever and I have lots of fond memories that took place there.
We arrived safely at Mary Ann's around 8 o'clock, unpacked and got my mom ready for bed.
As I put her in bed, I tucked her in "snug as a bug in a rug'' and kissed her on her forehead... 
exactly the same way that she tucked me in as a kid, which always made me feel safe and warm.
She lovingly looked up at me and in a sweet, innocent way said, "I like that!  Can you do that again?!"
I thought about how childlike she is now and how our roles have reversed and now I was taking care of her.   
 I felt this overwhelming love and gratitude for my dear sweet mother
 and for all the many years that she took care of me and tucked me into bed at night "snug as a bug in a rug." 
And grateful that I had the privilege to take care of her, even if it was only for a few days.


Lori Whiting said...

This is the sweetest post ever and it brought tears to my eyes. We are at that time in our lives where the roles have reversed and our dear sweet parents need our love and attention. Your mom and dad are so cute together!
Love, Lori

Kimber said...

How sweet! Love all of your photos! So glad the drive went so well!!

Erica {let why lead} said...

I really enjoyed this trip down memory lane, because a lot of it is familiar to me. Obviously, my family and I made that drive dozens of times growing up as well. I'm really sentimental about that drive! And my great-grandmother owned a small home that looked a lot like that one. She lived to be 102 and lived there until the very end!

That is so sweet about your dad taking such wonderful care of your mom. Inspirational!