Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Helpful (but not too helpful)

Things with my grandpa are hard and they will only get harder.

My mom is the only one of her siblings who is truly able to help. Her sister lives in Chicago; my uncle is out of the picture.

I struggle with how much I should pitch in because I don't want to be overbearing  (you know that person who is being really helpful so that they can control the situation? I don't want to be that person) and because I don't want my sister and my father to get off without doing their part.

Late last week, I made a few calls to caregiving organizations. My mom didn't ask me to but the idea of hiring someone to do some companion care and driving had been brought up a few times and looking into it seemed to be something that I could to do help. I called, got a little information, passed it along and left it at that. She hasn't done anything with it and that's fine. I think it would be awesome and I wish they would just try it but it doesn't have to happen right away. I'm not trying to push; I'm trying to help.

I did the same thing a few weeks ago with boats. We're trying to find something smaller -- much smaller (his current boat is nearly 40 feet long) -- that he could fix up in the driveway of their house. I scoured Craigslist for boats, passed along the information to Mom and Grandma and let it be.

On Sunday, after my mom mentioned needing a schedule for calls to check in on my grandparents, I finally went ahead and did it. I googled around until I found a website that would fit our situation (I knew there had to be something out there), I invited my immediate family, my aunt and uncle in Chicago and my cousins in Maine and New York and Chicago.

What I was asking for was someone to volunteer to call and check in on my grandparents on a daily basis so that my mother doesn't always feel like she needs to. My grandpa loves to talk, too, so entertaining him for 20 minutes so that my grandma doesn't need to is a bonus.

I was nervous sending out the invite because, you know, family dynamics and all that. These things can be sensitive and my aunt and uncle are control freaks and I didn't want to come across like I was telling anyone what to do. I framed it like hey, we're all really good about calling but this way we know that someone is calling every single day.

The reception to the sign-up system was surprisingly positive. I'm glad I went ahead with it but I am quite certain that, one of these times, I am going to do something that I perceive as being helpful and it's going to blow up in my face.

It's messy, all of this family stuff.


Maureen said...

I am dealing with the same thing with my grandmother and I am sure your mom will be forever grateful for your help during this time. Your post has given me some good ideas, too, as we want to start a calling tree for my grandma as well. I struggle with the same thoughts of "why isn't this uncle or aunt or cousin doing their part?" What makes me feel better is the time with my grandma, to know you are helping them. I'm currently wondering how to express to these other relatives, who might not know what the situation is, that their help would be quite useful.

A said...

We're using a site called Lotsa Helping Hands to organize our calls and you can use it to assign other tasks, too -- I wonder if you started using it just for calls and then posted other things you needed help with that other relatives would get it. It also has a blog function you could use for mass updates.

You're so good for helping your grandma. It's hard and important. Hang in there.

bluemoon said...

It sounds like you are doing a really good job of walking the line of helping without being intrusive. They are lucky you are such a great support system, in whatever way they need!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I am glad that your email to your family went over well. I know how tough family dynamics can be so I am glad it went smoothly and was embraced by everyone!

Marcia Sherman said...

You are certainly doing your part. But yes, it is rather stressful when your kind and helping gestures are misconstrued as being overbearing or pushy. I think providing them with the information and waiting for them to make the next step was a good way to approach it, so that the idea would seem to come from them rather than yourself. Anyway, I hope everything works out just fine. Good luck!

Marcia Sherman @ Comfort Keepers

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