Garima Kalra and Yatish Mishra
When CK Kalra flew from India to Tempe, Arizona to visit his daughter, Garima, son-in-law Yatish and granddaughter Saachi, it was for a 4-month visit. The visit turned into a 14-month foray into multigenerational living due to the pandemic.
The family flew to Hawaii early in 2020 to celebrate Saachi’s first birthday and CK’s 75th birthday. Then everything started shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it wasn’t safe for him to travel. The best solution was for him to remain and become a three-generation household.
They have all had to adjust. The fact their home had adequate space has eased their transition. “It’s a good idea to have a good number of bedrooms and bathrooms so that it doesn’t affect your typical living style,” says Garima. While the pandemic has restricted their activities outside the home greatly, they go to the park with Saachi regularly for family outings. Summers in Arizona can be upwards of 115 degrees, so they have spent a lot of time inside, although Winter is perfect for outdoor activities.
While they had planned for Saachi to start at a day care center, they decided against it due to the pandemic. Between CK and their nanny, Linda, they keep Saachi occupied and learning. She adores her “Nanu”. He also helps with cooking and is good company for the grown-ups in the family too. Yatish says when one parent is busy getting Saachi to bed, it’s nice to have companionship and adult conversation with his father-in-law. “It’s been really helpful to have him around, especially when COVID hit and we are so limited in terms of things that we can do, plus additional stress that comes from work,” says Garima. “Knowing that he’s around gives us a lot of comfort for Saachi,” says Garima.
Yatish and Garima say in India it is very common to see multigenerational households. “So, it’s nothing new for us, notes Garima. “It’s very common in India to have grandparents living with you. I know the positives. I had a great relationship with my grandmother.”
Yatish and Garima say while it has been unexpected, and they know CK misses his home and friends, it has been good to have CK living with them. Their utmost goal is keeping him safe from the COVID-19 virus, although he has hoped to go back to India a few times during the pandemic. “There were phases when things started getting better, so he would say it’s better that I go back now before it goes down again,” she says. But being protective of her father, Garima prevailed and he has stayed.
Eventually, CK will return to India, and he will be sorely missed. He will definitely be back for other long visits…but, barring another pandemic, perhaps not for quite so long next time.
Read the full report and other family stories at Family Matters: Multigenerational Living Is on the Rise and Here to Stay.