Last week we both bade farewell to the youngest of my four children as she left to attend college many hours away. It has been a long and interesting journey raising my four children, and it was a journey that would have been impossible without your help.
As we both know, you and I have not always had the best of relationships when I was growing up, a fact which led me to live with my father's parents as a teenager. So, this journey we have taken together in raising my children was unexpected by many, including ourselves. With forgiveness, anything is possible.
Still, despite our troubled history, when the first of my children was born in 1988, you arrived with open arms ready to provide assistance when I was injured later that year in a horrific car accident. Differences were quickly put aside as you moved in and took over many of the more physical aspects of child care. Over the next few years, as I went through physical therapy, attended college, re-entered the workforce, had additional children, and battled and survived a diagnosis of cancer, you were there every step of the way supporting, encouraging, and nurturing my children. I honestly don't know how we would have been able to function without your help.
We've not always agreed with approaches to child-rearing. For instance, your persistent belief that my children were budding young Michelangeloes when they painted the carpets - artists whose creativity must not be stifled - was in stark contrast to how you would have reacted if I had so much as looked at paint with intent as a child. Still, at other times you did have sage advice to offer, such as what to do to help ease the itching when they caught chicken pox. Throughout their childhood you were just as crest-fallen as I at their failures and just as proud as I at their successes.
As they grew older and you moved to a nearby town to live closer to your friends, my children were still the focus of your life, and they spent as much time visiting you in your home as you did visiting them here at our home. It's little wonder that my children brought home their friends and shared their accomplishments with "Nana" before they shared them with Mom and Dad. My children aren't perfect, but I believe they've grown into hardworking, forthright and sincere individuals -together we did a good job.
After your stroke earlier this year, it was stressful at first rearranging my life to help take care of you. As I look back on how you rearranged your life for years to help me with my children, without complaint, helping to take care of you now seems to be far more of a blessing than the burden you insist you have become. It is the only way that I know to say thank you, and I love you, as this journey of ours continues.