My parents, who met and married while in the army, were in their 40’s when I was born. Service is a theme in my family. My parents served in the Army, then worked for the Veteran’s Administration and Hospital in Phoenix.
Both sets of grandparents were an important part of my upbringing.
Taking care of family members at home was a natural part of life. I was in my 20’s teaching in Costa Rica when I received a letter to return home to Arizona to help my mother care for my paternal grandmother.
Upon returning to the United States, I found an administrative position working for a local school district. Typically, grandchildren have a special way with grandparents, and it is easier for both generations to live together. My grandmother and I moved into a condo near my mother’s house. While I was at work she would cook her favorite German American dishes for dinner. While eating together, she would tell me about life when she was growing up in the 1880’s in post-civil war Kentucky. We laughed a lot and delighted in one another’s company.
After my grandmother’s passing, my godmother, Aunt Alba, a retired restaurant owner, moved in with me so she could live closer to my mother. I took an administrative/teaching position at a local college. While I was at work, she would prepare home-made gourmet Italian cuisine for my mother and me. I took doctoral night classes two days a week and my aunt would help me code statistical data on the weekends. She continued to live in my condo after my career moved me to California.
Eventually, my mother came to live with me in California. She was diagnosed as a pre-diabetic who needed to be on a low salt/sugar diet. I cared for her for nine years while teaching full time at the local university. My neighbors and friends, who had cared for their parents, helped me through each step of her aging process. By eating a low salt/sugar diet, my mother never had to take medication for diabetes. I tested her blood daily and kept records for her doctor. In her 80’s, she was unable to walk and got around in a wheel chair. She had bone spurs in her back which were undiagnosed until it was too late to have surgery.
Her handicapped condition did not slow her down. She worked for many years spearheading a Women’s Memorial dedicated to the Women who served in World War II. She wrote letters, made phone calls, attended meetings and raised funding. I was proud to care for her until she passed at 88 years old.