Grandparent Feature

Care, Love and Support Goes a Long Way

By: Audra Dreier, CSU Service Learning Student

Almost 12 years ago, Colton was a two and a half year old boy living with his Dad and Grandma inside a small pink trailer located in Loveland, Colorado. Colton's parents had just divorced and Dad received custody. Having no place to go, Dad turned to his mother Mary Sewald for support. Without hesitation Mary opened her home to her son and grandson. Mary explained that the adjustment was hard because of limited living space; however, it was helpful because Colton always had someone there for him. For a little over six years the family lived together until Dad became very ill. He had chronic back problems and eventually was restricted to a wheel chair. Unfortunately, when Colton was about eight years old his father passed away.

Following the death of her son, Mary became the primary provider for Colton. Again, she was faced with a difficult adjustment. Mary said she was ready for her rocking chair but instead her life had a much different path in mind. Weekly lunches and leisure time with friends became less frequent. Colton also felt isolated because his friends had mothers much younger than Mary. When Mary joined the Larimer County Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group she saw Colton interact with children of similar backgrounds. Finally, he had a common ground with other children.

Another major adjustment Mary faced was her career. She changed jobs and only worked twice a week in order to care for Colton. When Colton was not with Grandma he stayed with her niece. Being able to find childcare for Colton was a major struggle but a priority. Mary found it extremely important to always have someone home in order to keep Colton safe. Even when she had a quick errand to run, Mary made sure Colton was cared for. She allowed Colton and his friends to play under her supervision. Colton knew he could count on Grandma or someone else to be there with him everyday.

Due to the fast pace of our society and the use of technology, Mary struggled to keep up with Colton's active life. He wanted internet access, a cell phone, and many new video games. Colton also participated in sports and Mary was not comfortable driving him to practices and games in winter driving conditions. Before entering high school they both decided Colton should move to Canada to live with his aunt. Today, he attends school in Canada but still talks to his Grandma twice a week. His room at Grandma's is ready for him to spend the summer months.

Unconditional support is one of the many qualities Mary provided for her grandson's care. Colton, now a freshman in high school, has grown into a respectful young man. Mary proudly states he is a "great kid." A bumper sticker on her car indicates his status as an honor roll student.

Overall, she considered the entire experience of raising her grandson very rewarding. Although a "success", Mary said day to day was not always easy. She believes her trust in God helped her through the experience. When times were really tough she often turned to an inspiring poem and found her spirit lifted. If you are struggling with a challenge, consider these words by Emmett Fox.

" It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble; how hopeless the outlook; how muddled the tangle; how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. If only you could love enough, you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world."

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