Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Do you remember when you were young and just beginning to figure out relationships? How gradually you comprehended that your grandma was your Mom's Mom, your aunts were her sisters, their children were your cousins and so on?

I think the relationship that took the longest for me to figure out wasn't a relationship at all - my two grandmas. It seemed to me that Mom's Mom and Dad's Mom should be related somehow. They weren't sisters, obviously, but what were they? Co-grandmas? Grandmothers-in-law?
I don't have any photos of me as a child with both grandmas, but here is one of both my grandmas with their great-great grandson, Brock (my first grandchild). Grandma Lynam is seated with Grandma Ridnour between her and Brock. In back are the great-grandparents, my Mom, Ruth, and Kenny's parents, Betty and Chuck.

This is Grandma Helen, my Fleming grandchildren's other grandma, with our first grandson, Ki. We are co-grandparents of five and great-grandmas to two. Maybe grandmothers-in-law is not a recognized term, but that is how I think of us.

And then there were four - Kathryn, Ki holding baby Dominique and Deise. No two grandmas ever had any cuter grandlittles. In the 24 years Helen's daughter, Shalea, and my son, Preston, have been married, Helen and I have been together for birthday celebrations, graduations, holidays, gymnastics, plays and .... showers. This one for our first great-grandson, Ayden, two years ago. At that time Helen's hair was growing back after her first cancer treatments.

All five of our co-grandchildren when they were still little, playing on their make-shift 'stage' at Great-Grandma Ruth's.

Our co-great-grandsons, Ayden and Greyson, taken last November. These two are our oldest grandson, Ki's, boys.

Easter Sunday we were together again. Helen has endured another round of cancer treatments only to learn that there is nothing more that can be done to quell the disease. She could go on with some radical treatments which would only ravage her body more, but she has decided against that.
Our oldest granddaughter, Kathryn Irene, took this selfie with her Grandmother. Kathryn is named for both of us. She has Helen's middle name, Kathryn, and my middle name, Irene.
Kathryn is now a nurse at St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids. She understands what her grandma is going through. She plans to be with her at Helen's next doctor appointment to listen to the treatment plan and help Helen in any way she can. (I should mention that Helen's daughter, Shalea is also a nurse and will be with her through everything, too.)

I can't have shared all the memories and times together with Helen and not learned to admire and care about her. Our youngest grandson, Devin, will graduate from High School in May. (This photo taken last year at Dominique's graduation party.) Helen and I both plan to be there. I hope so. But as she said when I hugged her goodbye Sunday and quietly told her how sorry I am for all she has gone and is going through, "none of us know what's going to happen". I know if I were in her place, I would make the same choice she has, to forego any further treatments and enjoy the time she has left - like the fishing trip she mentioned.

I'll see you in May, Helen, when our youngest grandson, Devin, graduates. We've been there together for our grandkids many times. I am thankful we have been grandmothers-in-law. 

1 comment:

  1. It is so sad, and so hard. I also understand and support the choice she's making to end treatment. Quality of life matters; I hope she'll have a good, long stretch to enjoy. I'm sure every day will be meaningful.