Heart of Gold: A Reflection on Caregivers / a grandma kissing her granddaughter on the head

Heart of Gold

Melissa Gosselin

For the past month, I’ve written glimpses of my life in hopes they might spark a feeling in you, and I was delighted every time someone came to me with a story. So I want to try shining the light outward and, with permission, share the stories that have been shared with me. For the sake of privacy, some of the names will be changed, but my goal will always be to convey the true nature of each relationship.

Today, I want to tell you about Anna's grandma.

Anna says her grandma is the most caring person she knows, and that this realization was made nine years ago. Anna was recovering from back surgery and her grandma stepped up to take care of her. She stepped up even though she was in her 70s at the time — no one asked her to do it, but she did. Anna was 100% dependent on her. 

It seems Anna's grandma is a caregiver in all aspects of her life. She supported her husband's career by immigrating to the United States from France, withstood the unstable nature of life abroad, and supported his mental health struggles after his retirement. She even took care of her own father after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Anna says her grandma is superwoman, that we don't appreciate caregivers enough, that it's a thankless job and we wouldn't be able to function without them.

But while Anna’s grandma makes sacrifices for the one she loves, she also makes it a point to take care of herself. She’s very social, has a great group of friends... a knitting club, a bridge club . . . believes it's important in a marriage to have separate social lives as well as the life that is joint. She also walks every day and takes great care of her health.

And Anna says you might not know the kind of life her grandma has lived. She says, on the outside, her grandma may seem reserved, that she won't offer up information unless she’s asked. But she opened up to Anna about calling off another engagement, so she could marry Anna's grandfather. And after a hip surgery, when she was still a little loopy, she told Anna that she still had the first engagement ring, and told her that she could have it if she wanted it.

Anna's grandma is adventurous, traveled to places like Iran on her honeymoon, and she supports Anna's travels, too. She's the iPad Queen and, when Anna moves to a new country, she’ll always send a cute little email saying things like: "Thinking of you!" and "Can't wait to hear about this next adventure!" 

Anna believes that her grandma has had an incredible life, that she’s shown courage, integrity and commitment, and that she’s taken the road less traveled. She's happy to have gotten to know her grandma in this way over time, to have her as an example to follow. 

So if there’s someone in your life who’s a nurturer, I hope this inspires you to let them know you’re grateful. And I hope it’s a reminder to ask questions because... Who knows what great story lies beneath the surface?

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