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Pa on his last day at the farm with Oma and his 16 grandkids


Two years ago I was pregnant with my sixth baby and boarded a 15 hour flight with my five small children. I was horrified to discover that the airline had put me beside a small child traveling alone. As if I didn’t have enough kids to care for on that journey.

A few months ago, I blogged about a flight I was on with a lovely elderly gentleman who was bravely traveling with his wife who had Alzheimer’s.

Imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago I boarded a 15 hour flight with six kids only to discover who was traveling alone beside me this time: An old guy. With Alzheimer’s.

That was just the tip of the irony iceberg this holiday season.

We traveled half way across the world to spend time with my sick father-in-law. Four days after arriving, my own father died back at home. Yep, you heard that right – I leave the country and my own dad decides it’s a fine time to pop off. Between my dad’s death and my FIL’s cancer, my son mentioned that he was experiencing some unfair events in
the grandpa department.

He also noted that there is one grandpa who is still fighting fit. He was referring to my 96-year-old grandpa, his great-grandpa. What is the secret to this old guy’s long life? From my observations, it would seem that the tricks to his longevity include never eating vegetables, indulging in a whopping bowl of Jell-O and ice cream every day, setting
yourself up with about 400 great-grandchildren and staying married to the same woman for 75 years.

A few days ago, our overseas journey came to an end. We wearily walked through our front door, only to be greeted with a phone call informing us that my FIL had just passed away. Seems the best time to die is shortly after my family leaves the country.

Has it been a great holiday season for my family? I could come up with a few reasons to grumble, but we’ve somehow managed to take the advice of my 95-year-old grandma: life is for the living and there’s no time to be sitting around waiting for people to die. So, in spite of it all, we did some living.

As we head into 2011, I’m mourning the loss of my dad and FIL, acting as amateur grief counselor to my kiddos and thinking I may just spend a bit more time over the next year sharing bowls of Jell-O with my grandpa.

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