A Tribute to the Legacies in My Parents’ Generation

I’m an adult child with aging parents, and all my life I’ve looked around with awe, observing what people my parents’ age and older have left for their families and their world.

Bridges, highways, businesses, savings accounts, good schools, paid off mortgages, parks, protective regulations, Medicare, social security, you name it. Even foreign aid to build up countries that had been our enemies during World War II.

The generations that preceded us, and especially the greatest generation, had a finely tuned respect for public service. Civics was important to them, and they understood how building a government, whether national or local, encouraged participation and helped others. Did I mention a love of education?

They also believed in paying their way with taxes — none of this lowering taxes and increasing debt and not paying for wars. I’ve lost track of the number of times my parents and grandparents told my brother and me that  “…taxes are a privilege in a democratic society…  for all of us, not just our family.” These were not affluent people talking.

We adult children and those who have followed us have mistreated and trivialized the gifts that were given to us.

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Are Kids Safer When Grandparents Drive?

I’ve just read an thought-provoking research article from the journal, Pediatrics, Grandparents Driving Grandchildren: An Evaluation of Child Passenger Safety and Injuries (freely available, PDF full text or abstract. As a part of this study, the researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School collected insurance data on 11,850 children who were in car accidents, some of them driving with parents and others driving with grandparents.

And guess what the researchers observed?

Something about the way grandparents drive, the data indicate, keeps their grandchildren safer when an accident occurs, than when the children are driving with parents. Researchers hope to investigate further to find out more about this phenomenon, especially given that 70 million boomers are moving into the grandparent phase of life.

According to the article: Continue reading

Good-bye Daniel Schorr

Daniel Schorr died yesterday at age 93. In addition to being an amazing newsperson for more than 65 years, he also set an example for all of us — aging parents and adult children — who want to stay engaged and keep working long past traditional retirement age. Schorr experienced occasional health issues, and Scott Simon mentioned this morning on Weekend Edition Saturday that he recently started using a walker when he came to National Public Radio. Yet he worked, wrote, broadcast, and gave history lessons — a lot of history lessons — right up to a few days before he died. Boy, did he love his work.

For as long as I can remember my family has always been an informal Daniel Schorr fan club. Just after Watergate, he made a speech in central Illinois, I think at my college, but I am not sure of that. In any event, when my father and mother heard he was coming, they set aside the time for the whole family to  join me to hear Schorr’s lecture. When he stood up for principle, we cheered, and of course we really cheered when he found himself on the enemies list and for the rest of his life considered the designation a badge of honor. Once we heard him say, on NPR of course, that the enemies list was almost a greater honor than his Emmy Awards.

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Moving Aging Parents, Mother’s Move, Part IV: Possessions

A March 12, 2010  New York Times article, Deciding on Care for Elderly Parents in Declining Health, made me think about the process my husband and I experienced with his mother following a stroke. This is the fourth of several postings describing our journey. Read Part I of Moving Mother – Part II – Part III

Gently Dismantling 66 Years of Living — Suggestions

For six weeks we traveled back and forth between our home and Hilton Head. We had no idea, but soon realized, how many possessions — furniture, clothes, dishes, and other items — mother had in her condo and storage space. We knew that she and her husband had sold and given away many things when they first moved to the retirement community in Hilton Head, but there were still many possessions. Although a decision had to be made on every single item, we tried to keep Mother in the loop so she could make as many choices as possible. When possible our long lunches in the dining room and visits with friends, which we encouraged, helped to ease the stress.

Here are nine suggestions for simplifying the parent moving process:

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Update on My Parents’ Blog

My parents worked hard to figure out (outwit?) the eccentricities of the Blogger site, and they managed to get their new blog up and running. They only needed a bit of help from me. I have made a mental note to think about writing some technology tutorials and attaching them to a technology tutorial posting here on As Our Parents Age.

Dad wrote his first posting and published it. Now he really needs to write and post a second one. It is hard for my parents to understand that just because you have a blog does not mean you have a lot of readers, at least not in the beginning. They want readers, but then so do all bloggers. For serious writers, and my dad is one of them, starting a blog is a labor of love — at least at the start. Continue reading

Communication: We are Always Children in Our Parents’ Eyes

“We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.”
Henry Ward Beecher

Last night on the phone my mom directed me to take care of myself and rest up. She knows the past three years have been well-filled, and often tiring, as my husband and I assisted his mother with post-stroke support. Mom worries that I am not getting enough sleep and that I do too much. Also she knows that eventually we will be close-by helping her in the same way, and she also worries that I’ll work too hard at that.

After she made these comments my mom laughed saying, “Gee, I sound like my mother.” I laughed, too, because I often sound like her when I talk to my daughter who is a successful young adult.

“I’m the parent” experiences seem to repeat themselves in each generation.

I learned this few years ago. I called my mother to share a frustrating experience I had with my daughter. I talked on and on for some time, and my mother listened, occasionally making a comment. Finally I ended by asking, “Tell me Mom, does this ever end?”

My mom, on the other end of the telephone did not miss a beat. “When you stop doing it with me,” she said, “I’ll let you know.”