Have you ever seen the movie “Parenthood” with Steve Martin, Keanu Reeves, Mary Steenburgen and a full cast of wonderful characters? I love that movie. I saw that movie when it was released in theaters in the 80s, before I had kids or was even married. Even back then, I got a lot of the humor and realized how true the message was. Now that I’ve been married almost 20 years and have two teenagers, it really hits home. There is that seen toward the end when they are going to the play at the elementary school. They’re getting in the car, all rushing out the door, and the little tiny grandma tells Steve Martin’s character, Gil, about when she was young and his grandfather used to take her on the roller coasters. He’s impatient, trying to get the family all in the car so they won’t be late, and she tells him, “I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”
That part always spoke to me, even when I was a teenager. I find the older I get and the more life throws at me the more I “get” what she was saying. Grandmas are always so wise!
My older sister, Gina, has two kids. Nathan is about a month away from turning 17 and Grace is 8 years old. Nathan is from her first marriage to Donnie, who is still very a much a part of our family. Gina & Donnie have been able to become great friends and that is awesome. Grace is from her current marriage to Joel, another great guy. Over 3 years ago Joel got a job as a border control agent. He had to do his training all in the Southwest. We live in Michigan, so that is thousands of miles away. He was also told he would have to work the US/Mexico border for a couple of years before being eligible for a transfer to Michigan. Now they have a house here, family here, a lot of ties here in Michigan. But the biggest thing is Nathan. He is very close to both of his parents. Therefore, Gina and Grace stayed here in Michigan while waiting for Joel to be able to transfer. They waited…and waited…and waited. It is now over a year from the time Joel thought he’d be able to get his transfer and be close to his wife, daughter and step-son again. Finally! Yay!!!! Joel got the news on Thursday evening that he could come home. He packed in a hurry and drove from Arizona to Michigan right away, arriving last night. And I was fortunate enough that I just happened to be at Gina’s house when she found out the news! Grace wasn’t there, so I didn’t get to see her reaction. But Gina and Nathan were there and it was a happy time!
I drove the 3 miles home from my sister’s, excited to tell my family that Joel was finally coming home. What news is waiting for me? My husband’s grandpa, the man he is named after, is unresponsive and the hospice workers are pretty sure he’ll pass away within a matter of days. Now, this isn’t a shock. The man is in his mid-90s and has lived a long, full life. But he is our last grandparent among the two of us, so it’s still sad. He lives about 3 hours away from us and is not aware of his surroundings at this point, so dad tells us to stay home. There’s nothing we can do and he won’t even know we’re there. We have the kids who have school and my mother-in-law to worry about. So we go to work the next day. And we get the call in the morning, he has passed away. He will join his wife and all of his siblings as he’s outlived them all.
Extreme joy and sadness, all a part of life. We wouldn’t appreciate the good times if we didn’t have the bad times to compare them to. A roller coaster for sure.