I Am Not My Grandmother, But Then Again, I Am
Don’t get me wrong here. I love my grandmother. She’s one of my best friends in the whole world.
But she’s also 60 years older than I am.
And yet, our lives are very similar in that we both live with arthritis.
When I call her, we almost always end up comparing notes about what hurts us that day, and usually we are experiencing the same aches and pains.
While it’s totally a misnomer to say that arthritis is an “old person’s disease”, the reality is that, that is part and parcel to what most of the world at large believes.
My grandmother is much more the “typical face” of arthritis than I am.
And yet, we are both dealing with the same thing on a daily basis.
And in a way, this shared experience has made our relationship stronger.
At a time when I couldn’t really relate to anyone else in terms of what I was going through when I first got sick, I could relate to my grandmother and she could relate to me.
It made me feel much less alone, and even though we were in very different stages in our lives, we had this one big, important thing in common.
Of course, no one ever wants to be ill. But if you have to be, it helps to have someone you can relate to.
And while the age difference is an important distinction, arthritis doesn’t discriminate.
People of all ages have and get arthritis.
So in some ways, I am not my grandmother. I haven’t lived the years that she has or dealt with losses throughout my life. I haven’t lived in the same world or time period that she grew up in. I haven’t been married yet and I don’t have children.
But in other ways, I am my grandmother. We are both redheads – my grandmother was when she was younger. We are both short statured. We both have genetically defunct toes – like literally, our feet look identical.
And over the holidays, I was looking through an old photo album that I had never seen before. As I flipped through, I came across a picture in which I saw myself staring back at me. It was a picture of my grandmother when she was a child, one that I hadn’t seen. And I felt like I was looking at myself.
And we both happen to have arthritis. Something that as I’ve said, we commiserate about often. Obviously, for both our sakes, I wish we weren’t on this illness journey together.
But I’m so lucky to have my grandmother, arthritis or no arthritis.
Our joints may be weak, but arthritis has strengthened our bond.
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