My best friend’s grandfather passed away last week from a fall he had in the front yard of his home. He was walking across the lawn to visit with a neighbor and tripped over a landscape brick that was sticking out just far enough to catch his foot. The fall was serious enough that he died within moments of the incident.
He was 93 and had a series of falls over the last few weeks. Nothing real serious, but it definitely was a concern from the family’s point of view. Grandpa and Gigi lived in Florida, as many retirees do, moving from Michigan years ago to enjoy the mild winter weather and play golf year-round. The closest family member was several hundred miles away, although various relatives did make several trips a year to visit.
I had the pleasure of meeting Grandpa and Gigi a few years back when they made a visit to the area to see their great-grandson graduate from high school. They were a lovely, vibrant couple, and I could tell they were happy to be visiting, while at the same time missing the comforts and familiarities of home.
It wasn’t too long after that visit that my best friend and I talked about the fact that Grandpa and Gigi were going to need additional support sooner than later. The hard part is having that conversation with your loved ones, especially when family is not around on a day-to-day basis to truly see what needs are not being met. Things may seem fine during a short weekend visit, as most folks can muster up enough adrenaline to make things appear as though everything is all right.
I can attest to this, as my visits with my mom were quite similar when she was living in Florida. Again, she was several hundred miles away both from my sister and me, and when we did visit, it was for short periods of time as we both had family and jobs to attend to.
On the outside looking in, everything appeared to be fine. If it were not for my wife’s prompting to bring Mom to Richmond Hill several years ago, she still might be living alone and far away from family. I can’t imagine how she would ever cope with the day-to-day challenges of managing a home, yard, bills and an ever-changing neighborhood, as many of the folks she once knew either had moved or passed away.
Driving would be another concern, as Mom decided a few years ago to give up her car — but that’s a whole other article.
One particular thing I remember when my father passed away was a comment Mom made to me when I was visiting her in Florida. I asked her how she was doing and she said, “I’m fine, but it gets pretty lonely in the early evening. That’s when your dad and I would eat dinner and talk after he came home from work.”
When I returned home and told Jennifer about that comment, she insisted I do something. She was right.
My best friend and I talked the other day, and he has begun the process of talking with Gigi. That first step always is the hardest. I hope it will all work out. Fortunately, he has a wife who will help him through this as well.
DeLong is the executive director of The Suites at Station Exchange. Call him at 912-531-7867 or go to www.thesuitesatstationexchange.com.