Sharing Grandma


What to do when your 91-year-old mother has been hacked? At least that’s what I thought had happened when she popped up as a new Instagram user. Given my full-to-over-flowing plate at the moment, I did what I could. I ignored it.

But apparently my daughter Carolina started checking around. This is evidence of our team approach with Grandma. She’s described as “living independently” in a retirement high-rise where two daily meals in the dining hall as well as light housekeeping are included. We, on her local support team, know otherwise. Back-up checking and more help is recommended.

According to Carolina, Grandma couldn’t remember the details of how Instagram started…which is concerning. Still, I am choosing to find the bright side. After all, what would you do if your brother-in-law from Spokane was in town for six weeks for an experimental protocol to address pancreatic cancer AND your husband awaits major surgery on Friday for bladder cancer? Of course, you’d ignore the “hacking” or better yet, try to smile and Shore. Up. The. Team.

The other day I stopped by Mom’s and realized my son Clarke had visited her recently. He had posted a map of Seattle and had marked our addresses to help orient his grandmother. She told me he had played jazz tunes on her keyboard and brought along ice cream—chocolate and raspberry—for them to enjoy together. Perfect memory—hoorah!

Later Carolina reported in that nephew Elliot (Rob’s brother’s son) had been the guess-who guest and Instagram negotiator. He’d given Mom rides home from family events in the past so knew where to drop by. Unlike me (after all, I like collecting field-dependent good-girl points), he didn’t feel the need to brag about this good deed. Actually he enjoyed visiting his local grandma and has no sense of obligation. The vibes are mutual—Mom appreciated the visit and so did he.

As the plot thickens on my side of the street, I imagine it will be harder for me to see Mom as often as we’d both like. I hope the kids continue to visit and other friends and family call her. Fortunately she’s loved at her home and included by her buddies for card games every evening. But she says that contact “from the outside” is also life-giving and fun for her. Please let me know when/if you visit because it ends up creating a “two-fer” in that I feel almost as good knowing about the visits as she does experiencing them. Welcome to the team!


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