Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘grandchildren

Like everyone else, many of my plans for this year have been ruined due to the global pandemic. A long-anticipated trip to Venice, a trip to the UK to see longtime friends and to celebrate a good friend’s 70th birthday, a meeting with a Canadian friend in Valencia, visits from Canadian friends during their around the world tour, and a trip to Canada to attend my youngest grandson’s high school graduation and a huge family reunion – all cancelled. But the biggest disappointment of all, is missing the opportunity to see my 91-year-old mom.

Mom is well looked after in a care home in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I keep in touch with the staff on a regular basis, and they have informed me that she is doing well, is happy and healthy. They are doing a great job of keeping the residents safe, and no cases of COVID 19 have been detected in the care home, which is a relief and I am so thankful.

But she is not allowed any visitors, for obvious reasons. As a result, I’ve not been able to Skype or FaceTime with her from Spain for the past four months, as it is the visitors who facilitate these video calls. I keep feeling she will think she’s been abandoned because no one comes to see her. I send her emails, as do my brothers, that the staff read out to her, but I really wish I could see her, at least on a screen if not in person.

The care home recently started allowing the residents to have visits by appointment. These visits are held outside with the regulated two-metre distancing and both parties wearing masks. My darling granddaughter made an appointment last week and visited Mom. It was hard not to be able to hug her great-grandmother or hold her hand. Mom has difficulty hearing and her own voice is very soft so the distance made conversation almost impossible. Initially, mom didn’t recognize her, but when she pulled down the mask for a quick smile, mom nodded and smiled in recognition. Of course, there were tears. As there were for me when I saw the pictures and video.

Mom wearing her face mask.
A quick photo of her without the mask.
Mom with a visit from her great-granddaughter.

There wasn’t much conversation but there was a lot of love. I was so happy to see these images and to see that Mom is all right and smiling.

This is what my dear granddaughter had to say about her visit:

“I booked a visit with my lovely Great Grandma. I have always had a close emotional bond with Grandma Frisch. She often took care of me when I was young, most weekends and more, and I returned the care to her when she needed it. I love her so much. Grandma’s existence throughout her whole life thrived on family. Thrived on making sure her family was ok by visiting, keeping in touch, and keeping close bonds. She is now in her 90s so she cannot hear very well and speaks very softly. Visits with Grandma are always in close contact so we can hear each other and feel the close presence.

Visiting Grandma like this, in today’s world, I had no idea I would break down. She didn’t recognize who I was at first with a mask on so I broke the rule and pulled it down for a smile. She lit up and smiled back and said I love you. We sat for our 30 minutes of no touch, no conversation, just eye contact. And uncontrollable tears from me. It is saddening, heartbreaking, and just too frustrating to even bare the strength of holding it back. I tried to hide my tears as best as I could… and I’m usually pretty strong.. but I could see that she knew. She tried to unlock her wheelchair brakes to come to console me. But of course, she couldn’t. So I smiled instead and said over and over I Love You.

I did ask, as she was about to be taken back, that we take off our masks for a real smile. The nurse thankfully said that was ok.

Our poor elders. What is this for … what is worse… and at what cost? Humans need humans. Humans need touch, humans need love…. we survive on it. Love through our eyes at a distance will have to do for now. Grandma is well, Grandma looks amazing, and I told her everyone loves her and thinks about her every day. ❤️

Suddenly small things don’t matter anymore like eyebrow waxing or hair cuts, when there are innocent people literally dying alone. And not just from COVID19.”

I feel incredibly proud of this young woman and touched by her words. And so very grateful that she shared this with me.

Who have you been missing during these days of lockdown? Have you been able to see your loved ones?

Stay safe my friends.


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I have  many wonderful memories of Christmas growing up. It doesn’t surprise me that many of them have to do with my grandma. She had many grandchildren but always made sure I got something special under the tree. She gave me my first stamp album, books I treasured and even my first Elvis Presley album! Christmas dinners at grandma’s place was special.  Her small house brimmed over with aunts, uncles and cousins. The meal would be delicious with special treats we only got at Christmas time. Grandma provided these treasured memories that always return at this time of the year.  I don’t think I ever told her how much they meant to me.

My 4 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren live in another province so I don’t see them as often as I would like. I’ve only spent a few Christmases with them over the years. Every year I enjoy choosing gifts for all of them, carefully wrapping them and packaging them up to send off in the mail. I like picking out a number of small items instead of one big gift for each. I know kids like lots of gifts to open. There is always a book or two for each child of course (and not always mine!) I admit I have always felt it wasn’t quite enough. I felt guilty not being with them and cooking a big meal for them like my grandma used to do.

Then I got this Facebook message from my second granddaughter, herself a mother of a  3 1/2 year old:

We received the box In the mail! Funny, a few days ago I was looking back on Christmas as a kid, and remembering the grandma Darlene boxes that would come in the mail. And how special and magical it felt to have gotten all those packages for us from you!!! Felt like there was a hundred! Haha! Then boom there’s one on my door step for Devin. Law of Attraction at my door. You made that a very rememberable, special memory for us girls. Something traditional. Thank you. Can’t wait to see what special things you found for Devin. xoxoxo love you!

Later I got a message from her older sister, a mother of a 6 year old.

We got the parcel! I always loved getting those parcels. XO

Then I realized that in my crazy, busy, whirlwind life, I was still making Christmas memories as a grandmother too!

Second granddaughter reading to her daughter and niece

Second granddaughter reading to her daughter and niece

Early Christmas with the grandsons 2011

Early Christmas with the grandsons 2011

 

Grandsons, granddaughter and great granddaughter early Christmas 2012

Grandsons, granddaughter and great granddaughter, early Christmas 2012

First great granddaughter happy with her gift

First great granddaughter happy with her gift

 

The best gifts I have ever received are my grandchildren and great grandchildren. Those of you with grandchildren and those of you without, I hope you are making special Christmas memories for the young ones in your life.

Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or a grandparent. ~Donald A. Norberg

Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.
Mother Teresa

I just returned from a week in Medicine Hat, Alberta visiting family and cleaning out Mom’s apartment as she embarks on another phase of her life in a retirement centre.  It was emotional, stressful and a lot of hard work but there were some highlights as well.

reading at Jesse's school

I visited my ten year old grandson’s school and read from my books.  Jesse got to introduce me to the class and held the Ali Baba puppet while I read.  It was a lot of fun; the kids were very attentive and asked great questions.  They even gave me ideas for future books.

 

 

 

I spent a lot of time with Mom which was great.  We went through her clothes, shoes and jewellery together, deciding what to keep and what to give to charity.  We both like nice clothes and accessories and we both hate to get rid of them.  So it was a good thing to do together.  I hung familiar pictures in her new place to make it feel more like home.  It is a very nice place and I am sure she will be comfortable there and well taken care of.

Me and Mom

Spending valuable time with all my grandchildren, and my son and his wife as they helped with packing things up and making deliveries was a treat.  Aunts and Uncles dropped in to see Mom, so I had an opportunity to see them as well.  It made me realize once again how lucky I am to belong to such a large, caring family.

Reading from the Owl book Grandma brought with her from BC.  They sure love books.

Then there was a chance to reconnect with old friends.  One made me dinner, another invited me to her new art gallery/restaurant, Inspire,  and two took me out for a much needed drink my last night.  I chatted on the phone with another dear friend who is also dealing with an aging mother.

I was happy to be home after eight days away and hubby and cats were eager to see me, but I am glad I took the time to go back home.

Have you had a chance to go back home recently and how was the experience?

Jesse reading my book

Yes, that is Jesse, my ten year old grandson reading Amanda in Spain. He says his friends can’t believe he has a grandmother who writes books. That is worth millions in book sales!

I have just returned from a wonderful visit to Alberta. It was so great to see my Mom, my son and his family as well as old friends (not old in age but in having known them for a long time)

Mom and Me

It was also a special time as my mom’s father’s family celebrated being in Canada for 100 years. It was the centennial of their immigration from South Russia to the Canadian prairies where my great grandparents set up farming on the Alberta and Saskatchewan border. The homestead is still in the family as an operational farm, although no one lives on it anymore.

We celebrated with a full day of activities organized by my cousin Jean Sanders and her family. The day started with delicious fruit kuchen, coffee/tea and a chance to catch up. There are currently 188 direct descendants of my great grandparents, Andreas and Katherina Mehrer and 81 of us attended this special event.

They arrived in Canada with four small children in 1911. My grandfather John, the eldest, was 6 years old and his baby sister Frieda was only 6 weeks old. Andreas and Katherina went on to have nine more children. The surname Mehrer is derived from a Middle High German word meaning “to increase”. The name is most appropriate as100 years later there are 188 descendants, many of them children. There were five generations at the reunion.

Katherina Mehrer acted as a midwife and delivered more than 60 babies in between looking after her own large family and helping out with the farm work. She was a tiny woman with incredible strength and endurance.

Andreas Mehrer was known as a great storyteller and many of us have the gift of the gab, passed on from him no doubt. I was seven when he passed away and he only spoke to me in German but I remember him as a kind old man. I think he would be pleased to see my grandson reading my book, proof that the storytelling tradition has continued.

Happiness is also being part of a huge loving German family that loves to get together and share stories over good food.


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