While grandma dies our daughter gets engaged. How are we suppose to feel?
(Grandma’s  Lessons leading Up To Our Daughter’s Engagement)


Empty nest syndrome begins…
Throughout that tumultuous time in our lives, when grandma was dying, our family’s lives continued. It is not that we were selfish people, but sometimes it just seems that life and the situations bombard you all at once. It sure was overwhelming for me.
During the time grandma lived with us, our daughter, our oldest child moved four and a half hours away. It was the first time she had ever lived anywhere but in our small town, near family. There were many reasons it was tearing at my heartstrings, but the main reason was she was my best friend. No one ever prepares you that parenthood is like a roller-coaster of ups and downs.
I know, your kids are supposed to be your kids. Parents should be friends with each other, guide and love the kids, but not become attached in that way. However, my daughter and I did everything together, including studying, shopping, and having fun.
During her high school years, I was chauffeur, coach, counselor and confidante. Likewise, she was all of those things to me too. We even started our home based businesses together, coaching and encouraging each other as we built our teams.
Family vacation at the lake…
In May of that year two of her girl friends decided to join all of us on our vacation. We had planned a long weekend up at Lake Almanor. It is a beautiful mountain lake set high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We had a blast. The girls had not really camped before so cooking over an open fire was a completely new experience for them.
A couple days before we were to leave a new visitor arrived. It was a young man, a friend of the girls, who decided to drive up to see what the lake was like. Yeah, right! He came to begin courting our daughter. It was obvious in spite of her continuous denial.
Surprise phone call…
About a month later, my husband received a phone call. The look on his face was enough to make my knees buckle. I could tell it was a serious conversation because of his body language and his pacing the floor. His tone of voice changed as he headed for the bedroom. Frankly, I do not think he wanted me to hear. He wanted to break the news to me one on one, alone.
That night I learned that this young man, who found his way up high into the Sierra Nevada Mountains wanted to marry our daughter. To say we were shocked would have been an understatement. My husband gave his permission in spite of his feelings. I could not say anything, except why? I felt like I was a character in Steve Martin’s “Parenthood”; living my life looking in through the window, watching our daughter growing up and away from us.
Grandma was a real support for both of us. She had similar feelings when my mom and dad wanted to get married. She gave us the best advice and I am so thankful that she was living with us and could help us over this tremendously stressful time in our “letting go” stage of our lives as parents. It was hard enough to see her go live in the Bay area, let alone marry this person we did not know a thing about.
As the months rolled by, the wedding plans came to fruition, grandma’s health declined day by day. It was so hard to be happy when it seemed like everything around us was either dying or withering away. Looking back, yes…we were being selfish. We did not want things to change. We wanted our little girl at home under our care, just as it had always been.
Soon it was the weekend of our daughter’s engagement party. This happened to coincide with grandma’s hospital stay, before her health declined. We both knew we needed to be there for our daughter, yet I wanted to be beside my grandma’s bedside. I have never felt so torn in my entire lifetime.
Good advice…
So, falling back on what I knew I turned to grandma for advice. Without skipping a beat, she assured me that I needed to go to our daughter’s engagement party. Grandma said that life goes on, and she would never want me to break my daughter’s heart because of her. Now that is what true love is, from the depths of her heart she gave me the greatest gift…she was helping me break the ties and I did not even realize it at the time.
The engagement party was very nice. It was odd because we only knew our daughter and her best friend. We had met her soon to be husband and our son-in-law a few times, but we knew nothing about him close enough to our satisfaction. We both felt like fish out of water, we did not belong there. We felt our lives slipping through our fingers so to speak. Try as I might, my thoughts were at home with grandma. I wanted so desperately to support our daughter, yet I constantly found my thoughts drifting back home. I was just numb, all over.
As the party wrapped up, we said our good byes and headed back home on the long drive. I am not quite sure how either of us survived that weekend or the drive, except we love our kids and would do anything for them. The drive home was harder than any drive I had ever made; I knew what was facing us.
The next time my daughter and I would talk was the phone call when I had to tell her that her Great Grandma deVore had passed away. As we both cried and consoled each other we talked about the memories, fun times and advice we had each received from grandma.
I once heard someone say that life can be like a bowl of cherries. I would tend to agree. Sometimes it is sweet and sometimes it can be the pits. That summer as my daughter started her adult life and courtship was bitter sweet for us as we learned we had to let go. On top of letting go of one of our children, we dealt with grandma’s death at the same time.
Those lessons have helped me in business and coaching alike. Being a strong personality, I tend to want to control all aspects and help everyone succeed. However, sometimes in order to succeed we have to be nudged out of the nest and allowed to soar or fall on our own.
The lesson I have learned is our auto transport students and clients will be stronger if we just lead the way and allow them to fly beside us instead of trying to fly for them.
By the way, we can’t spread the word about these lessons without you. If you have learned anything at all from our story, send a tweet to your Twitter friends, drop a short post to your FaceBook friends. You can bet they will enjoy and learn right beside you


Here to Serve,

Carla J Gardiner

Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor other professionals in auto transport.
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