7/12/2021 | By Terri L. Jones

Almost 40 years ago, I had the opportunity to live with my favorite grandmother. I was 23 and in between jobs, working a crazy swing shift at the beach. Granny lived within 30 minutes of my temporary beach job and had an extra bedroom. She cooked for me, washed and ironed my clothes, polished my shoes, and generally made my life pretty cushy.

I lived with Granny out of necessity for those three months and undoubtedly reaped huge benefits from that arrangement. But the hidden bonus, one I never really considered at the time, was the relationship we developed. We talked about everything, and I learned things about my grandmother that I never would have learned had we not lived under the same roof.

When I moved out after finally landing a job several hours away, I felt infinitely closer to her. Granny passed away from cancer just two years later, and I’ve counted the blessings of those three months every day since.  

No house, no problem!

This spring, my husband and I found ourselves in a similar situation. After easily selling our townhouse, we were having difficulty buying a new home in the exploding real estate market. We figured we’d have to rent a place for the foreseeable future.

But then my mother-in-law graciously offered to let us “go back home” and stay in her spacious, five-bedroom home – which is also my husband’s childhood home (there’s still the blue shag carpeting in his old room to prove it!). Being pretty much out of options, we accepted her offer, but we did so with more than a little trepidation. She had her life, and we had our life (and three animals!) … and “never the twain shall meet” sort of thing.

While we knew we’d have a cozy bed to sleep in for as long as we needed, we figured it wouldn’t exactly be a bed of roses!

A bed and so much more

Two months later (and about two weeks from when we move into our new home!), I’m happy to report that our anxiety was completely unfounded. In fact, not only have we all cohabitated with relative ease, but we’ve also had a great time doing it!

We’ve cooked tacos for Cinco de Mayo and burgers on Memorial Day. We’ve gone to the dog park, a winery and many restaurants, ordered takeout every Friday and indulged in wine and nibbles on many an evening. We’ve watched game shows with my mother-in-law, and she’s watched murder mysteries with us. We’ve weeded and set up a new remote for her, and she’s baked and babysat the dogs for us. We’ve enjoyed her stories, and she’s enjoyed showing us off at church every Sunday. And yes, she’s even liked having our cat and two dogs (except when they jumped in bed with her the first couple mornings!) around and has affectionately become known as “Grandma” to them.

Lessons learned when you go back home

While I’ve always gotten along with my mother-in-law, I genuinely like her as a friend now and have really grown accustomed to our morning chats over coffee and email. Plus, she’s taught me some valuable tips, like using boiled egg water for your plants (who knew?!). My husband, on the other hand, has recognized so many similarities between himself and his mom and now has a real appreciation for her strength, intelligence and self-reliance after seeing it firsthand. I honestly wouldn’t trade this time for anything (even getting into our new house sooner!).

The moral of this story is you should never turn down an opportunity to spend quality time with someone you love. It may not always be a bed of roses, but it’ll never be as thorny as you think.

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones