Sunday, August 14, 2011

Unsandwiched II by Margaret Ullrich

Maybe I wasn't clear last week.
I got a few e mails.
Annoyed e mails.

First off, I really admire grandparents who do more than an occasional babysitting.
Sudden expenses can send the best of budgets into a tailspin.
In today's market, jobs can suddenly end.
Marriages can end, too.
Emergencies happen.

And elderly parents can need help.
A fall can change things drastically.
The parents were there when needed.
It's only fair to be there for them.

When there is a real need, it's great to know a family will pull together.

It was about pulling rank.

The post was about the gung-ho Granny who has to run the show.
Her children have adult children of their own.
Her children have managed to raise the next generation.
They did a fine job.
They're all known as responsible, hard-working folks.
No matter.
For birthdays, confirmations, graduations, engagements, whatever parties,
gung-ho Granny has to be the hostess.
For every holiday on the calendar her children, and their children, have to go to Grandmother's house.
Like a horde of Little-Red-Riding-Hoods on a forced march.

The post was about the gung-ho Granny who sees herself as the hub of the family.
I know one New Yorker who had decided to throw her elderly father a birthday party.
Great-Grandpa was visiting from Florida.
It was late December.
Grandpa hates the cold, but he went north for the holidays.

It wasn't enough to invite the man's grandchildren and their children.
Oh, no.
Equally elderly folks, related by marriage, had to attend.

Elderly folks who had thought they were beyond peer pressure.
Elderly folks who didn't relish the hazards of a long winter's drive.
That meant driving to a house that was about two hours away.
And another two hours driving home in the dark.

That was driving in the summer.
Not in the winter.
Newsmen had said that the icy conditions were dangerous.
No matter.
They had been told to come.

They complained to their children about the drive.
They hoped to guilt their own children into driving them to the party.
No dice.
Their children had other plans.
It was the holiday week, after all.

Back in the 50s and 60s, relatives stayed closer together.
Especially when they were just-off-the-boat immigrant relatives.
Two sets of my relatives lived in the same tri-plex.
Another couple was on the same block, six houses away.
It was a snap to get everyone together.

That was then, this is now.

Maybe it's time to let the idea of gathering relatives together go, like dial phones. 
Maybe it's time to let the 40-year-old children host a family dinner.
Maybe it's time to let the elderly stay home, guilt-free.

Maybe it's time for gung-ho Granny to get a new hobby.

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