Forget Me Not: Being thankful for parents and grandparents | CraigDailyPress.com

Forget Me Not: Being thankful for parents and grandparents

Noelle Leavitt Riley

Noelle Leavitt Riley

As an adult, it's more prevalent than ever how much love and support I've depended on over the years from my parents and grandparents.

I certainly didn't recognize all their gifts and love as a teenager or a young adult, but now — more than ever — I see how their presence in my life shaped me into the woman I am today.

I currently have two living grandparents, my widowed Grandpa Bob on my mother's side, and my widowed Grandma Jan on my stepfather's side. I also have my grandmother-in-law, Amy Taylor. She lost her husband, Ben, last year.

As a kid, you never think of what life might be like without your parents or grandparents, as their kind words of encouragement and warm homes are always available. But life changes, people grow old and eventually pass on.

Like many others, my husband and I have watched our elderly loved ones pass over the years. We cried, show thanks for their love and slowly move on with fond memories.

We're currently at the age where we've become increasingly concerned about our parents' health. For example, we had an incredible scare with his mom this fall.

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She had a major heart attack that confined her to the Intensive Care Unit for several weeks. We weren't sure if she would pull through the surgery, let alone the recovery process. When the potential loss of a parent stares you in the face, you suddenly grab onto every detail of their existence that you love so much.

That's what my husband, Shawn, and I did as his mother hung on to dear life. Luckily, she's recovering well, and we're hopeful that she'll be here for many years to come.

We're not sure what caused the heart attack, but perhaps stress of taking care of her 97-year-old mother in Suttons Bay, Michigan, played apart in her ailing health.

She selflessly left Colorado and her husband in June to care for her mother to avoid sending her to a nursing home. It was a financial, emotional and physical burden for her, but she did it because of love.

She wanted to see the last years of her mother's life spent at the place she called home for several decades. That example of love is untouchable. Very rarely do you see someone give up their life to take care of someone else.

Since I became involved in senior issues roughly eight years ago, I often see people leave their elderly loved ones in homes where they're often forgotten. They're left alone, and their health declines quickly.

It's my hope this holiday season that we all take a moment and give thanks to those who raised us, to those we call our grandparents and to those who are in a generation that we may not understand.

I certainly don't understand why my grandfather feels the need to tell me directions to my parent's house each time I pick him up for a family event. But I do know that I'm thankful that he's in the car with me, talking to me and loving me despite our generational gaps.

I'm thankful for him, for the grandparents who have passed and for my parents and in-laws.

Noelle Leavitt Riley is the editor of the Craig Daily Press and the Saturday Morning Press. She and her husband, Shawn Riley, run the Forget Me Not foundation where they take donated flowers to elderly in nursing homes. Reach her at 970-875-1790 or Noelle Leavitt Riley is the editor of the Craig Daily Press and the Saturday Morning Press. She and her husband, Shawn Riley, run the Forget Me Not foundation where they take donated flowers to elderly in nursing homes. Reach her at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.Noelle Leavitt Riley is the editor of the Craig Daily Press and the Saturday Morning Press. She and her husband, Shawn Riley, run the Forget Me Not foundation where they take donated flowers to elderly in nursing homes. Reach her at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.

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