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After five years of living with us, it became evident that my grandparents needed 24 hour care.Everyone has choices to make in life, and every choice we make at every juncture has repercussions. When my grandparents were living in their home with minimal care, that was right for them, when they moved into our house – that was right for them. They moved into a nursing home, received the appropriate level of care, and Thank G-d lived in additional 5 years in the nursing home.
When weeks would go by and the food would remain untouched, it became clear that my Bobby and Zaidy could no longer take sufficient care of themselves on their own. Yes, I always hesitated to invite friends over as I was unsure how my grandparents would be feeling and acting on that specific day. I got to see the loving relationship my grandparents had for each other.
Was it difficult, at ten years old, to essentially have another set of parents move in to your house? However, Did I learn really important lessons during the five years that I did have two sets of parents? One day, I came home from school to find my grandmother had fallen and being over 90 years old, my grandfather was too frail to help her up.
I don’t know you, but I can almost guarantee that you don’t ask your grandparents (or older parents) enough questions about their lives and the lives of their parents.
We’re all incredibly self-absorbed, and in being so, we forget to care about the know quite well—can only be accessed by asking questions.
I even for the first time heard stories about my grandmother’s grandmother, who came over separately from Latvia and lived with the family for her last years—and apparently had quite the personality.
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Thankfully, she died in 1941, just months before she would have learned that her four sons (who unlike their mother and sister, stayed in Latvia because they had a thriving family business there) were all killed in the Holocaust.
I learned a ton about my four paternal great-grandparents—again, I had known the basic info about them, but it was the details that for the first time made them real people.
Three of them grew up in rough New York orphanages—the fourth left everything she knew in Latvia in her mid-teens and took a boat alone across the Atlantic, arriving in New York to work in a sweatshop.
And I got to understand that every single situation has to be dealt with differently.
While it was appropriate for my grandparents to move in with our family at the time they did, even though it was one of the most difficult decisions that my father ever had to make, there came a time when they were no longer able to receive the level of care they needed to survive in our home.