The foreshadowing of our present situation came 15 years ago, when my aging mother lived with us. There was a day when I tried to go to the local mall with her and my 3-year-old at the same time. She was as slow as he was quick. As we headed across the parking lot, the preschooler shot ahead, and I was left torn between keeping a helpful eye on the elderly woman who had given me life, and deserting her to assure myself that her youngest grandson would live to face the same decision some day.

My mother is gone now, but my mother-in-law is not. She is much healthier, even though they were only one year apart in age. She lives a two-hour drive from us, and we are her geographically nearest children. My son is about to launch into adulthood. Now the tables may turn. He is inexperienced at adulthood, but yet able to care for himself. He is also unlikely to be accidentally mown down, since it's much easier to see a six-foot (plus) man than a preschool child! In fact, he now helps his grandmother with chores, and can look out for her when I drop them at the door to shop for groceries.

We are all in transition. A daughter's family has been financially stressed by the economic woes our country has endured recently. They came for a visit a year ago, and things got worse when the husband was severely injured while trying to turn things around. He's back on his physical feet; but we all know how difficult the job market is, especially once you've been out for a few months. His injury, though not life-threatening, will undoubtedly require a career change. Meantime, my daughter returned to school, again, to seek an MBA so she will be employable as well. She and her three daughters are shoe-horned into one master-suite at our house. I am amazed and proud of how very well they have cooperated under sardine conditions. One year down on a two-year program. But the girls missed their dad, who is across the country where he went to recuperate at his parents' home. He has better job prospects there, and he is entering that same transition age with his parents as I went through with my parents years ago.

So here I am, more than half-way across this huge continent, visiting my youngest grandchildren and taking the youngest of my elder grandchildren most of the way to their dad, so they can stay with the other grands for a while. Transitions often seem to involve growing pains!

On the subject of pain, here's a scene from Princess Bride that talks about it.