Ducks 'n a Row: Love Does Not Need To End Just Because Valentine's Day Is Over

21 February 2014

Love Does Not Need To End Just Because Valentine's Day Is Over

Guest post by Tammy Doiel

Last week, I was rebuked in my soul.

Family is very important to my husband and me.  Growing up, neither one of us came from a family that was financially wealthy, but we were rich in our family's love for each other.  "Blood is thicker than water" was instilled in us at a very early age. 

Now I am grown with five children of my own, and I have told people, "I may not have a lot of money, but I have five children.  We may not be able to retire in style, but that's why we have five kids--they can take care of us!" 
And I would get responses such as, "That's not the way it  is anymore."  
"Kids don't take care of their parents these days."   
And I would vehemently oppose that. 
I would think, "But it doesn't have to be that way!"   

Now, I know of course that sometimes parents need more help than children can give and that it is in the parent's best interest to get them some help. I am just opposed to the idea that children don't want to mess up their lives to take care of aging parents.  I feel that it is my responsibility to do as much as I can to take care of the parents who invested their lives and money into the raising of my husband and me.

So I blithely continued on my way.  And then last week, I got a wake-up call.  

I decided to call my grandma who is 91.  She lives eight hours away from me and her son does a great job making sure her physical needs are met.  But while I'm on the call, she tells me that I am her favorite grandchild.  (Shh--don't tell my sisters and cousins!)

Now part of the reason for this is because I went to stay with her for a couple months right after my grandpa died unexpectedly.  My grandma was only 64, and she had 50 cows to care for on the farm, hay growing up around her, fences that had to be mended, and she just lost the love of her life, who her life had revolved around for over 40 years.  

me on the farm with grandma
Pictures are grainy but they are from 1986!
So as an eleven year old girl, I helped carry pails of water out to the barn dressed up in her old sweater.  We would go down in the basement and stack her wood for the next winter.  I would hold the hammer as she fixed the fence out in the hay fields.  We would take turns pushing that old push lawnmower around her huge yarn.  And we would play card games and make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  I gave her a reason to keep living--she just couldn't stop as she had to take care of me.  She took me to church as she knew that is what my parents would have wanted -- and she made new friends.  

A few years ago, I also took care of her for a few weeks after she had been sick.  I was the only one able to do it, but the caretakers came in my house, and she always felt a little bad about that seeing I had 3 very small children at the time. But another reason is that I call her periodically.  However, it had been two months since I had called her--and that smote me to think that she thought so highly of me, yet I was too busy to call my own grandmother who now is stuck in her house most of the week.  And I say that I expect my children to take care of me some day?

How do I pass on that love for the elderly, that love for family, if I talk the talk but do not walk the walk?

Well, we had already decided that we were going to go visit some Senior Citizens who live in a retirement center right by our house for Valentine's Day. I feel that my kids "get, get, get," and that for Valentine's Day, we should show some love to others that are not just their friends.  So we prepared a plate of goodies for the three apartments we were going to--and I packed a box of goodies to mail to my grandma.
Love gifts to the elderly
We were able to go visit these people on the Monday before Valentine's Day, and it was such a special occasion!  The one couple had been in Germany--13 years old--when the war started.  I can't wait to hear their story one day.  The other couple is close to 90 years old as well.  They had a display of shells and sea stars under glass that the kids loved seeing, and the last lady had a teacup Maltese that my kids absolutely adored.
Visits to our elderly friends
Visits to our friends.

To tell the truth, we got more of a blessing out of it than they did!  Two couples have already sent us Thank You notes--talk about good manners that are lost today as well!   And what did we learn from it?  That love does not have to end just because Valentine's Day is over.  We have already told them that we want to visit them more in the summer when we can have later nights and we can go outside (their apartments are small for 7 additional people--5 of them being rambunctious children!)  

And I'm going to call my grandma more!

I do not know for sure that my kids will care for me when I am older and frail, but I hope that they at least will have a love for the elderly and those who need help -- and that is my job to teach right now! It does not have to be complicated.  It can be just a conversation, a card, a phone call, or a hug. 

When we went, I just took a paper plate, punched some holes in around the edge, ran some ribbon through the holes, and tied a bow at the top.  I tied it up in some basket cellophane wrap that I had and attached a tag I made.  I did not want my children to have the excuse that you have to go out and buy something big to go show love.  Even those who do not have much can be a blessing to others.

We can still show love to others even though Valentine's Day is over!

If you would like to print out these little cards for yourself,  just click on them!

                                                   Printable valentine cards 
                                                         Click on the picture to print.

                                                   Printable cards to go with a gift. 
                                                       Click on the picture to print.

Tammy is a normal (or maybe not so normal :)) mom of five children ages 3-11.  She has a blog called Creative K Kids where she blogs about her family that includes crafts and activities that they have done as well as many of their favorite recipes and some printables!  

She is a host of two linky parties on Creative K Kids where every link gets pinned; and she has started a new blog called The Ultimate Linky where you can link up just about everything such as printables, giveaways, linky parties and participate in daily social media parties.  Tammy also loves Pinterest, and she has just started five group boards that you could ask to join (the top five on her wall)! 

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