When Matt and I exchanged vows, I know there was a line in there about "for better or for worse" but I, like most brides, wasn't thinking about the "for worse" part. I was 23 and full of excitement for marriage, the trip we were taking to Bermuda for our honeymoon, and our new life. I couldn't imagine anything worse than a little bickering that married couples probably do. Around the time of our wedding, my grandparents were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They had just moved from Michigan to North Carolina to be near my parents. They were retired, able to travel, comfortable enough to shop and eat out, and life was good. Fast forward ten years and as Matt and I are about to celebrate our Aluminum Anniversary (no really, google it), my grandparents are about to celebrate their Steel One (I'm not making this up, guys). We've seen some really great times (2 houses, 2 dogs, the birth of 3 kids) we've also seen some of the "worse" (downturn of the economy and 2 hospitalizations of our daughter) but I know it can get even worse. My grandparents are in the midst of his dementia and declining health. I've seen to ultimate love and care she as his caregiver has provided around the clock. I've seen the worry in her eyes and listened to her crying. I've watched her mourn the loss of the man he used to be and the lonliness that has ensued. I've seen him struggle with confusion and loss of activity. I've witnessed his personality fade away and a blank stare take over his kind face.
Over my Easter break with the family, my grandfather was hospitalized again with a fever and general weakness. The tough decision lingering in the air was for how long could she care for him and where would he be cared for best. What was best for her? After many tours of "rehab" facilities, assisted living centers, and nursing homes, the perfect one was selected (is there ever a perfect one?) and he moved in. While never an easy decision, I know the relief that my grandmother must feel in knowing that he is being cared for. I know she must miss him in the house. These are all little parts of the "for better and for worse". With the good also comes the bad. I hope that I can handle this with grace and love if I'm blessed with another fifty years.