I lived miles away from my family. Who was watching out for them?
by Kimberley M. Knox — Posted on May 21, 2014
“What are we going to do about Grandma?” Dad asked on the phone. “Her dementia’s getting worse and worse.”
I could tell how stressed my dad was from a thousand miles away. That’s how far I lived from my family in Nebraska. I called often from Maryland to check up on Grandma, my parents, my sister and my niece and nephews. But today I wanted nothing more than to hop on a plane and give them all a big hug.
“I’m going to check out this nursing home in Coleridge,” Dad said. “A three-hour drive, but at least your sister will be nearby.”
The thought of my 90-year-old grandma holed away in some bleak facility freaked me out. As a kid, I’d always loved visiting her house. It was like a dollhouse. Crocheted blankets on the armchairs, porcelain dolls on every shelf, antiques everywhere.
Coleridge was a small farming town. A month earlier, my sister had married a farmer from Coleridge and moved there with her three children and his two sons. It hadn’t been easy for my niece and nephews to start over at new schools, just like it wouldn’t be easy for Grandma to leave her home behind.
I wanted to help, but how could I from so far away? Who would be there for my family?
I called Dad the following week, bracing myself for more bad news. But he sounded excited. “You’ll never guess what happened,” he said.
Dad arrived in Coleridge and found the nursing home had real charm. He toured the facility and was impressed by the warm staff and comfortable surroundings–there were even crocheted throws on the armchairs! But he did come across something puzzling. A portrait of a couple named Harvey and Irene Feelhaver in the entranceway. Feelhaver was Grandma’s maiden name.
”I asked the home’s director, Shelley, about it,” Dad continued. “She’s Mr. and Mrs. Feelhaver’s granddaughter. Turns out Grandma and Shelley’s grandfather were second cousins!”
Grandma wouldn’t be lonely in Coleridge. And neither would my niece and nephews. Shelley’s kids attended the same schools and they quickly became close friends.
I couldn’t fly out to give my loved ones a hug, but they’d already been embraced by family.