My New Ride

bikeI’ve done LOTOJA many times—in my car.

I like to bike, but I’m no nutcase.

It would be cool to sport that swag LOTOJA decal on my car, but I don’t think even that could neutralize the “I used to be cool” bumper sticker my daughter plastered on my minivan, so I’ll save my tush the trouble.

I did cruise the scenic Logan-to-Jackson route the past two weekends for some business we had up there. Our kids are finally at ages where they can care for themselves (in small increments), so we were footloose and kid-free for two whole weekends! We had big plans for hiking, biking, and rambling around town in between business obligations.

The best laid plans.

Since our kids are independent and responsible now (right?), we don’t need grandparents to stay with them anymore while we’re away, so they decided to join us in Jackson. Don’t get me wrong, we were pleased as punch to have them along, the experience was just a realization that we are now officially the lunchmeat of the double club sandwich generation.

With four people in their seventies and three in their nineties, we moved like a nine-legged buffalo through the area sites. We had four who can’t walk well, three who can’t hear well, two prone to wandering, one with major age denial, and all of them with varying dietary and bathroom needs.

They’d all taken time and means to be with us so we wanted to show them a good time, but our composite challenges brought limitations. The Wanderers wanted to stroll around town and hike a bit, but the Immobiles couldn’t. Age-denial was game for anything, though he shouldn’t be with his medical history. The No-hears just smiled and nodded.

We tried our best to accommodate everyone, but it was tricky. While trying to find Age-denial a souvenir hat in the shops, one of the Immobiles lost a Wanderer she was in charge of, which was problematic because he’s also a No-hear with no cell phone. We found him snoozing on a park bench. Age-denial insisted on some kind of hike, so we found an easy half miler, or so we thought. The trail included many steps—not ideal for a recent hip replacement. We held him by the arms much of the way. Meanwhile, an Immobile was waiting with a No-hear at the trailhead and kept calling from her cell phone to find out what was taking so long because they were hungry and needed a bathroom. Who decided there should be phone service in the wilds of a national park?

It was much like dealing with kids, yet they’re not kids. We couldn’t just pack them up the trail, or scold them when they wandered off. We couldn’t deny them souvenirs, or tell them to quit calling or there’d be no dinner. They’re adults, our elders, our parents and grandparents! I owe it to them to help them do what they can while they can.

So, as the years of caring for my children wind down, the years of caring for my parents ramp up. It’s going to be quite a ride. I’ve decided to call it KITOPA (Kids-to-Parents). Decal design in process.

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