I recently shared a bit of my personal history with my beloved nephew Shawn. I ended our talk by saying how proud I was of him and the other young people in the family. I told him that, for my generation, our greatest hope was to see those coming behind us in the family doing well and continuing our legacy. I thought about this some more this morning.
My mom was a school cook for many years. She made many sacrifices to ensure that her family was fed, clothed and sheltered well. However, after she retired money was tight as she tried to manage on her reduced income. To make sure she had what she needed, my siblings and I usually gave her cash instead of gifts and made sure we kept each other in the loop relative to her needs. One day I got a call from my sister telling me she had discovered mom was not taking the medication prescribed to control her blood pressure. Mom was trying to pay for her medications on her income and one way she could do that was by missing some doses. When my siblings and I heard about this, we were not happy as we had repeatedly asked her to let us know if she needed help. My siblings and I coordinated our efforts to make sure mom got her medications as needed. I called the pharmacy and told them in the future all her medications were to be billed to me and if she wanted anything else from the pharmacy to just add it to the bill. I shared details of the arrangement we worked out with my mom and told her to feel free to put other essentials on the bill. My mother no longer missed taking her medicine and, after a while, she seemed to get very comfortable with the arrangement. I started seeing quite a few non-essential items on the monthly bill. I would joke with her about the various items, but she knew we were really happy to help. It made us proud that we could in some small way now care for her as she had always cared for us.
A few months ago, our son told my husband and me that he was taking his family to Orlando and he would pay for us to join them. (Was this the same person who, for many years, would hardly acknowledge our mere existence when he came out of his room?!) Our son paid for the airfare, a spacious rental property and whatever else was needed for the long weekend. At dinner I found myself doing to him what my mom did to us: I ordered all kinds of things off the menu. My son chuckled. He knew what I was doing just as I knew what my mom was doing. Just enjoying a bit of payback.