On Saturday, we spent a good part of the day traveling to Ohio to visit with my mom. We got a bit of a late start because it took us a little longer to pack up the site than I expected and we encountered the slowest gas pumps ever in western PA. Twenty-five minutes to pump 30 gallons!
The boys slept most of the drive (a huge benefit of the RV), which gave me a chance to catch up on podcasts with foul language. The boys have finally arrived at that age where they are infatuated with “forbidden” words. Will’s favorite part of the ELA Google Slides Letter Sort Worksheets during online schooling was swapping a few letters to make the answer a curse word while I was out of the room. Nothing gave him more joy than changing “tell” to “hell” or ” duck” to …. This stage of their development has coincided with them becoming the official, state-sanctioned speech police of the RV. I am now lectured by both of them after each “Jesus Christ” (although we reached a compromise that I can say Cheese-It Christ if someone whips out in from of the RV at an intersection). The Joe Rogan Experience and the Bill Bert Podcast are definitely off limits when they are conscious.
When we got to Youngstown, we had a late lunch with mom. After lunch, the boys spent a half or so riding their bikes in her long driveway before declaring it was now time for dinner. Something I considered obviated by the late lunch. Meals on the road trips rarely would pass muster with Michelle Obama and her healthy kids initiative, but a late lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings followed by a McDonald’s Happy Meal with a milkshake is a new record low for daily nutritional value.
Sunday was full of surprises. The day began with me wondering why I came to Youngstown in the first place. I awoke to mom fully dressed and heading out to work on her day off. I reminded her it was Sunday, and she breezily said that she would call me later in the day. Frustrated that I had driven all the way here and that she was now voluntarily heading to work for no clear reason rather than spend some time with her grandkids and son (whom she hadn’t seen in 8 months), I thought about leaving. Maybe I should head to the next campground a little early? What was the point of staying here if she didn’t intend to spend any time with us?
Thirty minutes later she was back at the house and she was soon telling me that she thought it had come time to sell her house and relocate near us. Something I had been very unsuccessfully been trying to get her to do since her dementia diagnosis eighteen months ago. Few things in my life have made me feel more helpless than knowing I couldn’t get her the assistance she needed and resigning myself to the fact that she would probably spend the last years of her life in a memory care unit in Youngstown with no family and few friends around or die alone in her house after a stroke or heart attack. Knowing she preferred these outcomes to spending this stage of her life near her grandsons (and me) was both infuriating and depressing.
Then it all changed. I will probably never know why she changed her mind, but I am happy that she did. When we decided to have kids later in life, I never really thought much about how this would change their relationship with their grandparents. When I was Will and Lucas’s ages, my grandparents were in their 50s. My mom is in her mid-70s. She can’t physically (not to mention, mentally) have the kind of relationship with our kids that my grandparents had with mine. Few seventy year olds on the planet are up for a game of wiffle ball or tackle football with their grandkids as my grandma did. Without really thinking about it, we chose a very different kind of grandparent-grandkid relationship for both our kids and our parents. They didn’t get a vote. Although Will and Lucas’ relationship with their nanny will always be different than mine with my grandma, I feel blessed that they are going to get to see her more and she will be a bigger part of their and our lives.
I also feel thankful that she came back before I made a rash decision to leave in frustration this morning.