Before the rush to Sacramento to help my aunt, we had planned to join my mom’s sister and brother and other family members at the park to celebrate Carmichael’s 100th Birthday. A big deal for them as she was born and the family was raised in this lovely suburb near Sacramento.

I treasure the times when my mom can see her brother, his wife, his kids and my aunt and her husband; when they can come together to talk about old times (and new ones).  The event proved to be a great opportunity for them to do that. Just like the old days, the geezers got to sit around in lawn chairs in the warm evening after dinner and chit chat while we waited for the fireworks to begin.

Katie is the only child when we have these get togethers. Sometimes my cousin’s grand kids come along, but they are really young. What is truly amazing to me is how well Katie relates to the elders. With the exception of my cousins, they are all well over 70, in fact, four of them are in their 80s. They are in varying states of health but still quick-witted and delightful.

What I appreciate about my daughter is her ability to be so comfortable around seniors. She is amazing as she moves slowly, speaks clearly, offers all kinds of help (she completely cleaned my aunt’s kitchen – which she hasn’t managed to do at home!) and looks for ways to make them comfortable. She shows amazing patience and compassion. My uncle has dementia and tends to tell Katie the same stories over and over and over, and yet Katie smiles and acknowledges him every time.

I believe she is learning skills that will last her a lifetime. 

When she went to camp, she was naturally attracted to a woman who “reminded her of Gramma.” She turned out to be a trusted counselor that Katie relied on for coaching as she struggled with home sickness. At our home school program office, Katie is delighted that the “principal” is this lovely woman named Priscilla who reminds her of Pat at camp!

Most of Katie’s friends aren’t exposed to old people. They aren’t around their grandparents or older aunts and uncles and therefore aren’t learning how to be around the elderly. As a society, I think we owe it to our children to teach them to honor these incredible people and to help kids feel comfortable and even responsible for helping our seniors when they can.

I have fond memories of being a care giver when I was just 10 and “Gramma Watson” was 96. She taught me to crochet and I made sure she was safe while her daughter ran errands. I learned so much from her. And of course, my favorite person in the whole world was my grandmother who lived to 101. I would do anything for her.

I am so thrilled my daughter feels the same way about her grandmother.