Have you been out to see your grandma lately?
Just wondering. Because I was able to go see two grandmas today. Sadly, not mine.
Honestly, I’d give just about anything to go visit my grandma. I miss her like crazy. We had a somewhat difficult relationship, seeing that most grandma’s get to just spoil their grand-kids with very little sense of responsibility for character. My own mother in law tries to keep needless spoiling in check, but I can’t fault her for striving for a two-thumbs + both arms + a loud yell “YAY, WE GET TO SPEND THE DAY WITH GRANDMA AND GRANDPA” reaction.Â I know this reaction first hand, because my own boys said this today as I was loading them into the car. (Thanks again, Mom and Dad, for boy-sitting this summer while I do my internship!) Anywhoo, back to my grandma. She was a saint (slightly broken), but selfless none the less. She raised my sister and me when my own mother could no longer do the job. So, all the teen year drama? Grandma was dealing with that all over again in her 60’s. The poor lady. Then when my first born was just 5 months old, she passed away. On days like today (when I’m visiting someone else’s grandma ) I would be happy to just pick up the phone and hear her voice again.
So, what do you do when you are visiting someone else’s grandma? Here’s what I do: we talk about the weather, the view from her nursing home window. We talk about the precious needlepoint project hanging on the wall. She just might start the same conversation over again after a few minutes. But, really, is that such a bad thing?
“You know, I completed that needlepoint in 1948”.
“Yes, I see the date next to your initials. It’s beautiful! You are very talented. Did your daughter take up needlepoint like you?”
“Yes, she did. Now, SHE is very talented.”
“Oh, I’m sure. She obviously had a good teacher.”
“Well, you know the one over there? I did that in 1948. I worked so hard on it, I just had to keep it.”
“Yes, it’s beautiful. You are very talented…”
The grandma #2 was in need of a little household help before heading into the hospital for back surgery. We talked a bit in between floor mopping and cupboard washing. Her family lives out of state now, and she was ever so thankful to know that she would be coming home to a clean house. Then, she showed us a few tips on how she keeps her goldfish happy. Did you know that goldfish LOVE nibbling away at a thin slice of orange? I didn’t. The wisdom of the ages, obviously. What really strikes me is that $10 worth of goldfish are the pride and joy of this delightful lady.
The Long Process of Grief
I’ll be the first to admit. It’s probably a little easier for me to visit someone else’s grandma than it would be for me to visit my own. First of all, I don’t remember what they were like. I’m not grieving the loss of the “grandma that I used to know”. When I see this little lady (not trying to be discriminatory, there just aren’t a lot of “unattached” grandpas available) she looks like all the rest in “the home”. A little bit of attention brings light to her eyes. We don’t talk about finances. There are no important decisions to be made. I’ll talk about anything with her and we will probably discuss the same thing several times. I’m not concerned with her deteriorating mind, because it seems like a perfectly normal thing for her to experience. But, when it’s “your” grandma… every lapse in memory tears at your heart. Yes, you are losing her. But, if there is ever a time for acceptance and unconditional love – it’s now.
One time my husband’s grandma (almost 94 years old) timed me while I did a word search puzzle. It seems she had been keeping tabs on the different staff people who come in to help her. She had been timing us all. I won, of course. That gave us several visits worth of conversation.
How to know when it’s worth it?
When I was leaving grandma #1 today I took her hands into mine and said, “It was very nice to meet you, Betty. I’d love to come back again sometime.”
She said, “I hope you do… my goodness dear, your hands are so warm!”
I held on just a little longer.
Next time… I’ll start with holding her hands.