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Archive for the ‘Seniors’ Category

Mom Again by Renee Bykerk

Mom again!!!! I was looking forward to retirement next year, when my world turned upside down. I now have guardianship of my four year old grandson. He has a disorder that requires many different appointments with specialist. It has been a challenge to say the least. Born on my birthday, we had a bond like no other and somehow I knew one day I would be more than Nana to him. Guess the spirit was preparing me .

Life goes on and so many grandparents are raising their grandchildren. So what went wrong? Somehow I feel I have let my children down. Was I good mom? Thought so — I worked, paid my bills, and alone might add. Still I wonder did life just grab my son and say life will be hard for this one. He was in a bad relationship, drugs and later attempted suicide. Good news he survived and checked into rehab, and is on the road to recovery. But, in the meantime I am my grandson’s caregiver. It hurts my heart so much. But he too is mending and now sees his dad. Mom is out of the picture.

I have had many challenges as I am aging. It’s funny what life does to you. Open up packages, able to pick up my grandson, be the person who takes care of his needs. He wears me out, LOL. I’d like to hear from others who have also raised their grandchildren and those challenges they faced.

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Have no passport, didn’t go or through, but had them come to me. Which I highly recommend. I was newly divorced, had two growing teenage boys and a new baby, a big house and no money. What is a mother to do…but rent out rooms. Not to just anybody but to foreign college students. An education far beyond a cruise ship, book, or any internet streaming. This was first hand, on the spot learning for me, my family and my renters. Joining cultures in a living situation was awe inspiring, unbelievable learning, and just plain fun. The countries were Australia, England, India, Iran, and Korea. We shared cultures, customs, recipes, languages, politics, and items never made public. My refrigerator became a United Nations gastronomic delight! When we all ran out of money we combined our foods together…shrimp on the barby dipped in kimchow with a side order of curried rice and a potato dumplings was a culinary delight. Combined with international chatter hit the heights of enjoyment. I can’t measure the amount of learning/understanding and sheer pleasure we all
gained but I’m sure it enriched our lives greatly. Little did we know just how much our international information was absorbed by the little one but when he entered school he became the history go-to boy, as he would give lectures on these countries. The teacher thought we had traveled extensively. I still get occasional e-mails from my extended families keeping me up to date on their lives. What is an unhappy time in some woman’s memory is a joyful memory for me.

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I have been traveling via Netflix. A series called Borgen is just wonderful. Takes place in Denmark via their parliamentary elections and a woman who becomes the Prime Minister. It’s 3 seasons and extremely well done – English Subtitles.

I also enjoy some of the Korean “soap operas” which enables me to see the variety of living situations as well as their eating styles. Some of them take place in hospitals, others in law offices, some in universities. Some are silly but I do enjoy watching and reading anything about Asian culture.

Just last week I saw a film called “Orchestra of Exiles” via Amazon Prime which starts with the Jewish love of music in Europe, especially the violin and goes through WWII and how one musician helped Jews to migrate to Palestine and started the beginning of an orchestra, first conducted by Toscanini and evolved to be the Israeli Symphony Orchestra.

Even without the current pandemic, my actual traveling days are over. My last visit was in 2016 with my family to visit Cuba, the land of my birth. The timing was perfect as Obama had made it possible for people to visit. 

So I now travel the fastest way possible – through the internet!

I am so glad that I did when I could!

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I’ve always wanted to ‘see for myself’.  I had heard such positive things about how Germany ‘owned’ its horrible past, and taught it to their children, but I simply had to see it for myself.  My husband would never go to Germany, so I had to go after he had died. I went with a friend; a friend of my husband’s actually.  We hired an experienced guide, who turned out to be 1/2 Jewish, and we did indeed see for ourselves exactly how the German government mandated teaching its ugly past to their young, so it would never happen again. Would our government only follow in Germany’s example!

I felt the same way about Cuba. One hears so much; you hardly know what to believe…In this case, my husband was willing to go, but he got sick and died before that was possible. My interest remained, and I was fortunate enough to go, and ‘see for myself’, at a most historic time:  Fidel Castro died the day before we arrived in Havana! I will just share two vignettes from that trip. The Cuban people have such pride in their country; a friendliness toward Americans that went beyond interest in our tourist dollars, and this:  How safe a tourist is in Cuba. Why? Because in their strict criminal code, if you are caught doing a crime against a Cuban citizen you will get jail time. But, if caught, doing the same crime against a tourist, your jail sentence will be two or three times as long!

In this time of Covid, one has to have hope. A friend of mine, who moved to California this June, and underwent a mastectomy followed by Chemo this past September, and I have plans, real plans: when we each have received the Covid vaccine and have shown positive antibodies, we are going to go to Cuba together!

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