My friends lost someone this week. Their family had a nanny from far away who went back home. They are sad. They 'bonded', learned to love her and she them. I am sad for my friends. And it made me remember caregivers that my children had in their daycare. One, a quite elderly lady, was a favorite of theirs. She was from South Dakota and I, from North Dakota, so we talked many times when I was dropping off and picking up my kids. She wanted nothing more than a piano for her room, and was too shy to ask management for one, so I mentioned to the director that she had once started and lead a band at school where she had taught, and wouldn't it be wonderful if she could teach some music to the kids? That lead to her getting her piano! She loved it and the kids loved it. But not long after, she was gone. I asked about her and the director told me she had been diagnosed with fatal throat cancer and had quit. I missed her and so did my kids so I made a decision to try to find her. I had an idea of where she lived, because we had talked about how when she had car trouble, she would just walk to work. So I went driving around that neighborhood a couple times until I saw her car. She had a unique license plate so I knew it was the right car. I took a chance and knocked on the door. Oh, she was so glad to see us! She had not actually quit, but been let go as they did not trust that she would have the energy to teach during cancer treatments. It seemed unfair to me that they did not give her a chance and wait to see what happened. We had a lovely visit.
But I had a decision to make. When you purposefully guide your children to develop relationships with people, you usually assume they will last forever. That might be an incredibly naive assumption, yes. But rarely do you know that if you allow your kids to get close to person, you will be setting them up to soon deal with a death and the mourning that follows. I decided it was more important, for her sake and ours, to keep seeing her. We visited every couple months, dropping in if we saw her car there, until finally, she no longer answered the door. Turns out she had been taken to a son's house because she was too sick to live alone. We called there and they said they would call us if she was strong enough for visitors. They never called. I doubt that was her choice. Then one day, I read a local newspaper that I hardly ever read and there was her obituary and notice of her funeral on the following Saturday. Our family went to 'say goodbye' and I encouraged the boys to tell her son how much they liked his mother. It was a very sad day for us.
And one I could have certainly prevented, by just not continuing the relationship with her, by not taking my kids to visit her. Was it worth it? Is it worth it to bond with people that you know for certain you will have to say goodbye to? Was it fair of me to let my kids love her, knowing she was going to die soon?
I am pretty sure the answers to those questions are all yes.