Monday, July 26, 2010

whiskey shots

Today was a gorgeous day.  It was solidly in the mid to high 80s, and I didn't really get out to enjoy it.  Maya's at daycamp this week, which is the perfect opportunity to clean the house.
Except I didn't.

I was a neglectful granddaughter last week and did not see my grandparents as much as usual.  I only saw them on Monday and on Saturday when my grandpa called me and told me that my grandma had to talk to me, which means I have to go there since her talking is writing on a pad of paper.  

On my drive there--all of 5 minutes--I was wondering what she could possibly need to tell me.  Of course, my mind goes straight to Days of Our Lives material.  She has to tell me some deep, dark family secret before she forgets it forever.  What could the secret be?  I was kind of nervous.  

When I arrive, she is greatly agitated, and it sounds like maybe she had hit my grandpa.  She hadn't.  She had thrown some stuff but not at him.  Just throwing in frustration.  It's something the women in my family do at times.  She was frustrated that there isn't any more treatment for her cancer.  She wrote in big, huge letters on her notebook paper: "HELP ME" and "CALL BRENDA" (my mom).  Also, "YOU WON"T HELP ME"  By help she means treatment, I guess.  She also wrote, "Who said no more help"  She's a fighter, that one.  A forgetful fighter, so we have to have this discussion with her several times a week if not several times a day: there is no more treatment for your cancer.

After the dust settled, I went home to a crab feast since Wayne and my parents had gone earlier that day.  I made plans to be at the grands again today.

Today was a good day.  She was active, cheerful and animated.  She dusted while I vacuumed all the carpeted areas in the house.  One of the carpeted areas of her house is the dining room, in which a big china hutch sits.  It's filled with tea pots and various glassware from her past.  She has a glassware set from Ireland that her great-grandmother brought over, from what she told me today.  See, this is the thing that sucks.  She has told me this stuff over and over throughout the years.  Was I listening?  Nope.  Now I'm worried that I won't get the correct info from her (she is easily confused about people and dates--there's a lot of them to keep straight).  Pay attention to what the old folks say to you because someday, they may not be able to tell you.  And it's lost.  The whole damn story.  

We're standing in front of the china hutch, and she's pointing out pieces, when she pulls out two shot glasses.  I say, "oh, is it time to do some whiskey shots?"  She laughs and calls for my grandpa to come in.  One of the glasses has a crack, so I say, "looks like someone slammed this one down too hard on the bar." right when my grandpa comes in and says, "Coulda been Jesse James"  

My grandma's grandpa Walters was sheriff in Kansas City, Missouri, and Jesse James came into the Green River bar (saloon?) there.  Her grandpa kept the glasses Jesse James drank from, and now there they are sitting in my grandma's china hutch with all her delicate tea pots and crystalware.  I was able to do a one-woman re-enactment of how I envisioned their meeting went, which amused my grandma.  

Needless to say, we didn't drink any whiskey.  

I tried to get a photo of the plastic grocery bags that my grandma has neatly folded, but she walked in on me. I didn't want her to see me taking a picture of the evidence of her OCD behavior.  Who folds plastic grocery bags?

After all that, I never had time to get my own house clean.  Oh well.  There's always tomorrow...

Friday, July 16, 2010

She would be pissed...

But I love these photos of my gma doing her thing:

Reading a letter from someone she can't remember (Karlene?).

Toes and slippers.
She always runs around the house in barefeet, and it makes me cold.

The whiteboard she uses (at times) to communicate.  She'll also use tablets of paper, envelopes or even paper tape.  Whatever is handy.

Writing something to me on the whiteboard.

Yesterday was a really good day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

write it down and remember

My grandma, whom I have adored since I decided to grace the earth with my presence, is currently under the care of hospice.  If you're not familiar, hospice is end-of-life care for people who are estimated to only have 6 months (or less) before end of life.  Hospice is about death with dignity.  Death with less pain.  Hospice is a good thing at a bad time.

I have been going to my grandparents' house almost daily to help out with household chores, to bathe my grandma, or wash her hair, help her get dressed or just to visit with her.

Today was nice because all I did was chat with her.  She can't speak, really, so she writes everything down.  She tries to talk, and some days are better than others when it comes to clarity of speech.

It hit me, this day, that my grandma is at the end of life and will take with her volumes of information about my family that only she knows, remembers or experienced.  She wrote some replies to some questions that came up today, and when she went to throw the paper away, I took the sheet of paper from her, folded it and put it in my pocket.  As soon as I got home I made notations on the paper to put into context "47" "Wisconsin" "W.P.B. Fla"--among other things.

We brought out the family bible, the enormous tome that it is (the word of God is heavy, I told her).  It's amazing the papers that people shove into their family bible--not to mention the important births, deaths, marriages that are noted within.  I added my marriage to Wayne, which she hadn't added yet.  She's also missing the births of three of her great-grandchildren (Maya, Ben & Blake).  Wayne and I don't have a family bible (my parents do!) to keep those important family records.  I need to think of a way to keep track of our family history past and as we make it in the future.  A bible will never do in this household.

My grandma showed me some journaling she did 3 weeks ago (she claims; her recognition of time is sketchy right now).  The penmanship on the page was lovely, as her handwriting always has been, which leads me to believe that it was written way before 3 weeks ago.  Her penmanship now is difficult to read sometimes; her brain tumors really impact her ability to write as well as to speak.  Communication is a challenge and a frustration.  This bit of journaling that she completed was only a short page of brief recollections of her daily life during her childhood, but her was so descriptive and fun; it made me sad that she hadn't written more.  She ended her memories on that page mid-sentence.  Abruptly.

I hope she has more journals somewhere, but she told me she doesn't.