Grandma Mona is a retired low-income woman. She is placed in my room by the Foster Grandparent program. She is paid a small hourly rate, a free school lunch and under the program her income does not affect her low income housing. She has worked in my primary classroom for the past 16 months.
Mona is a cancer survivor, but in the past month she has been diagnosed with an incurable bone cancer. Initially she planned to continue to work 4 days each week. She called today, after being gone two weeks to say she’s not returning this year. She has realized the toll the treatments are taking on her body and a classroom filled with 23 five year-olds is not a relaxing place to spend a day.
I’m ashamed to say I’m almost relieved. While I really appreciate the help she’s able to give my children I dreaded needing to discuss the death when her situation worsened. I’ve come to realize by calling her “Grandma” the children make a link to their own families and I really don’t want to discuss death with a 5 year old.
Now I need to decide how to continue to reach out and support this woman whose life has left her in a precarious financial situation. Her situation makes me realize how vulnerable ill health makes the low income person.