This past week, we moved my grandmother in to live with us. She will be 96 in May and has lived a good, long life. She has also always been my best friend. Last night she was in a talkative mood and told me “You know, I was always good friends with you kids, and I think that’s because you wanted to tag along with me everywhere I went.” She also wanted to be sure we would all stay friends, do for each other, and continue that, even though, as she put it “I don’t have any money and I can’t do much anymore.”

When I was six weeks old, my grandmother became my caretaker, as my mother divorced and had to work. She’s right, I tagged her everywhere she went. As I grew up, she became my best friend and my seamstress, making many of the clothes I wore. She also became the one person in my life that I could always depend on for unconditional love. She was the first to know if I was hurt about something, the one I spent hours with simply sitting in a restaurant “having coffee” and the first one I called when my first marriage fell apart. She has always just been there. Not too long ago, she told me “you know, I have always been proud of you, no matter what you decide to do, you just do it and make it happen.” Every kid, even ones my age, needs someone like that in their life.

And now the cycle is reversed. I have become the caretaker of my caretaker. In some ways, it is as if we have added a child to our home. She doesn’t always remember things, she needs help with some of her every day tasks, and sometimes she even throws a temper tantrum. In those moments, it is easy to become a bit frustrated with her, until I remember all of the times she has done for me. It is simply a cycle of life. It’s her turn, and mine. And in the end, that means I am blessed because I will have memories that cannot be replaced of time spent with her.

Have you had this experience in your own life? How do you deal with it?

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