Anthony came to stay the day his daddy died. He was stillborn just 18 months prior, was revived, and spent three weeks at Riley recovering until he could go home. Since he had a seizure they put him on meds that made him cranky, cry at the drop of a hat, and become easily overstimulated. Even so, he was charming and loved very much by his family.
There was an adjustment with his jealous four year old sister. One night she dumped his medicine and formula all over the floor. His parents had coping issues and his daddy would say he self medicated himself for pain, having lost his father at a young age. The trailer was kept dark most of the time, reflecting their despondency. Two weeks before Zachary died, he asked us, “Would you take care of Anthony if anything happens to me?” We said yes. I remember Anthony crying once because he wanted to go out with me from the confines of the trailer and I thought at that time, if I had him his life would be so different. Little did I know….
We kept Anthony and his sister overnight on April 24, 2014. His daddy, Zachary, died that night in a car accident. His mommy nearly died and was incapacitated. We became guardians of Anthony, eighteen months old at the time. He suffered from separation anxiety, missing both his parents. I just couldn’t leave him in daycare when it was time for me to go back to work. So, I retired from nursing after a long and successful career. The next few months were quite an adjustment. The tears, short nights, and tantrums made it tough in those early days. I did some research on tantrums, and the best plan was to simply stand firm, give him stability and use distractions. At that time he was thinking beyond his speech capability, which was causing him a lot of frustration. He knew what he wanted or needed, but often just could not express himself with words. So, our daughter Kimberly, with her kids Grace and Ethan, taught him sign language, which helped him quite a bit.
You know how it is, you do what you have to in life, but despite the challenges we would not want him anywhere except in our home. For the joy of providing love, safety, and security we gladly give up our personal wants. Raising him to be a productive member of society, and a man that walks with God, is an awesome blessing.
You ask me how I you do it? Here’s some tips.
1 – Pray, a lot. God will give you strength and help each day.
2 – Place one foot in front of the other, and keep going on your journey. Things work out in time.
3 – Connect with others. Relationships energize you as you share, laugh, cry and minister to each other
4 – Get help. You can find help in surprising places for physical, financial, and emotional needs. Learn to ask, seek and knock. Sometimes grandparents may have health, aging or stress issues. There is government aid, food pantries, or medical help available.
Anthony is blossoming now. We keep him stimulated and involved in life. He plays with his cousins, his sister, friends. and family. His papaw is his best friend and playmate. We go to the zoo, the children’s museum, have traveled in an airplane, and even went to Washington D. C. We have had an abundance of joy, love and laughter. He makes our house come alive.
His mommy is still suffering, but he sees her frequently and loves her very much. The other day, after we went out somewhere, he sighed and said, “It’s so good to be home, don’t you think so grandma?” He feels safe, secure and loved here – at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
COMING SOON – A SUPPORT GROUP
We are starting a support group for Grandparents raising Grandkids. We have a passion for precious grands and their grandkids. Let’s face these challenges together, for there are millions of us! We will meet at Southview Church with Pastors Don and Marieve Young. Watch for a date and join us for fun, laughter, encouragement, ministry and education. We look forward to meeting you.
Remember to reserve April 29th as we launch our book , The Summer of Paintless Toenails at PASTAriffic, Kokomo, Indiana, from 2 to 4 in the afternoon. There will be refreshments, and women’s resource booths, door prizes and coupons. And all grandma’s love coupons!