My son, Scott, is 22 and a senior at Iowa State. He gets out of class early on Mondays, so he decided to drive down and see his grandfather, my dad, who's been hospitalized for a few days.
Scott arrived, and Papa was a little out of it -- glad to see his grandson, but also medicated and just not having a good day. Later, over dinner, I apologized to Scott for the fact that his visit with Papa probably wasn't what he wanted to be. And he said, "It's OK, Mom -- I wanted to see Papa, but I really came down for you."
My daughter, who is 19 and lives on campus at Drake, had said something similar when she had visited Sunday. And I thought about their comments, and about the comment a friend left a few days ago on Facebook: My kids are seeing me help care for my father. They realize that caregiving is hard work, and that a little support can be a welcome thing. And most importantly, they're seeing that this is what you do when someone in your family is ill. You put other things in your life aside, and you care for that person as best you can.
My kids are caring people, and they may have come up with that plan on their own. But it's not a bad thing for them to see me live the lessons I'm trying to teach them. That's always my goal, but it doesn't always happen. Cases in point: "Get more sleep." "Don't take on too much." "Count to '10' before you send that angry e-mail."
And I think my father, even as fragile as he is, may derive some satisfaction from the fact that his children and grandchildren rally 'round when something goes wrong, and that the support isn't just for the person who happens to be ill.