The Christmas season was approaching when I received a call one evening from my sister-in-law asking if I could accompany her school choir performing the next day at a local memory-care facility. It so happened that the facility was ED’s place of employment at the time. I was familiar with the beautiful building, having dropped by numerous times to pick up or drop off the boys (employee’s kids and pets were welcome). Often I would stop to play on the grand piano in the lobby as I waited. I agreed to the gig but, being late in the evening, I did not relay my plans to ED.
The following day ED, hearing the piano from her office down the hall, recognized the style of her mother’s playing and accosted me in the lobby. YD and others were astonished that I had not informed ED. The truth is, though, that we know little more about each others’ lives than if we lived in separate houses.
I am often asked to comment on ED’s preferences and availability, and she is probably put in the same spot as to mine. But we are two families sharing a house. Although we keep one another apprised of our schedules as they affect the others, we maintain family lines. ED’s job demands that she come and go often, sometimes working in her upstairs office then leaving the house without our knowledge. We respect her work hours and space.
There are some social rules outside work hours. As a courtesy, when leaving the house, one is expected to notify others, and the same upon returning. This includes the boys. Entering the house and passing by without a greeting results in a recall. This isn’t just a family courtesy; this is a skill for all situations. Acknowledging others and their presence in our lives positions us as members of family, of society. A “hi, Grandma” from one of the boys makes my day.