Fall Letter 2013

This past summer, my dad ended up living with us for a few weeks after he was hospitalized for falling and confusion. I knew it would be difficult because he required a lot of care, but I didn’t realize the impact it would have on my son. In fact, I thought it would be good for Will to get to know my dad since children who have good relationships with their grandparents are better off emotionally. It wasn’t quite that easy.

Will is an only child and is used to having our full attention. With my dad in the house, things changed quickly. In the morning, I had to help my father get out of bed, get dressed and bring him breakfast and medications. Doctor appointments, physical therapy visits, a trip to the emergency room and extra cooking and cleaning really put a damper on summertime. Will constantly reminded me this was the “worst summer” of his life.

But now that my dad is in assisted living near our home, I am beginning to sort through what we all might have learned. I have to say my husband really stepped up. He cooked Italian food for my dad, took him on walks, brought him to the barber, watched the ball game with him and talked with him. For that, I am grateful.

During the first few days, Will made it clear he didn’t like having my dad around. Then, I noticed his attitude slowly softening. Though Will never completely got used to having our only television tuned in to the Red Sox every night or his bedroom crowded with a hospital bed and walker, he did make the best of it. He watched the games with Grampsy and listened to endless stories.

More than once, Will heard how my dad crawled on his stomach with bullets flying over his head when he was in the Army. Again and again, Will listened to how Grampsy had no money when he returned home from the Korean War but was determined to finish college and open his own pharmacy. I don’t know how much of an impression my dad’s war stories or tales about hard work and determination made, but Will did tell Grampsy he could stay as long as he liked. I even overheard Will tell Grampsy that he loved him.

Will somehow came around and began to bond with my dad. Was it because I begged Will to be tolerant while I figured out where my dad would live? Perhaps it was the extra vanilla ice cream and blueberry muffins I kept in stock for Grampsy. Or, maybe it was the few days that Will’s paternal grandmother spent time with him and spoiled him a bit during this crisis.

Whatever the case, I am so very grateful my dad seems happy to be in assisted living, and we are starting to get back to normal. It was a difficult few weeks, but we pulled together to help my dad get back on his feet. I know it’s not over, but somehow we all survived this stage and came out stronger as a family. And, just as important, Will has a new relationship with his grandfather that otherwise might never have happened.

Warm regards,

Linda Ciampa, RN