As a career professional, volunteer, mom, wife, and friend, I focus on the positive aspects of life, even when the road is rough getting there. Life is funny. How you treat others, how you handle situations, and how you live each day is your responsibility ... so are the outcomes.
Today I could feel her presence all around me - very strong, just like her. Today was the time to share my last days with her. She was my "breakfast club."
I went to see Grandmother this morning, not knowing what to expect when I saw her. I had not been to see her for a couple weeks. Seeing her every day started to wear on my emotions, and I started getting depressed / out of sorts. In addition, I developed an unknown rash on my face, which needed attention, to make sure it was not contagious. It was difficult getting the motivation to go into the unknown, yet I knew I had to, because she had always been there for me, not matter what the circumstances.
When I arrived, I had a brief conversation with Tammy, one of the nurses, just to see how she had been doing, so I kind of knew what to expect when I went into the dining area to see her. When I walked up to her, she was speaking with one of the aids. I placed my hand on her left shoulder, so she knew someone else was there and let her finish her conversation. I said, "Good Morning, Grandmother." She said, "It must be someone I know, because they called me grandmother." She continued by saying, "It must be Traci. It’s morning." I was very happy to know, she still remembered me, and the fact I see her in the mornings.
There are a few things I do to try to help her remember who I am, even though her mind is pretty sharp, though she does repeat herself a bit. I greet her the same way when I visit. I wear the same smelling perfume. I look into her eyes when I talk to her. I try to wear my hair the same / similar. I keep my hands cold, so when she holds them she’ll tell me they are cold, so I can tell her I do it on purpose, so she holds my hands tight to warn them up. It’s a "trick of the trade" I learned when I used to see Grandma & Grandpa Meyers before they passed away. Grandma Meyers used to tell me, "You smell so good. I knew it was you."
It is amazing to me how, in such a short period of time, she had changed so much. She was a little more shaky than normal and her beautiful face was starting to sink in from not eating. Her brownish / hazel eyes were starting to show their age, yet they still sparkled when she smiled or made a funny. Every once in a while she stops talking and drifts off somewhere. When I ask her what she was thinking about. Her response was, "I don’t know." I said, "Your mind is always thinking. Whatcha thinkin’ about?" She said, "It’s inappropriate for me to say." Maybe some day soon, she will tell me what is really on her mind.
Soon after, she asked me where her Brandy Manhattan and beer was. "I would really like a beer. I love my beer," she continued. You could see her almost tasting it when she asked for it. I told her they did not serve either one here. She remarked, "Well that’s not very nice of them." One of the aids was at the table and said she liked beer, too. I said, "Grandmother passed on her love for beer to me, that’s for sure." We all chuckled a bit. A few minute later, she asked me, if we could go play the slot machines. The two must go together. She was disgruntled when I told her they did not have slot machines. "I hope to get out of here very, very soon. I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re both okay," she chimed. It has always been one of her favorite sayings.
I talked to her about the job I applied for. She remembered us talking about it. She was disappointed for me when I told her I did not get it. I commented to her there is something better out there for me. She told me I was over qualified for the position anyway. At least I have a job. She repeated quite a few times, "Yes, it’s good you both have your jobs." It’s funny how her mind works. When you ask her questions about certain things, she will tell you she does not remember. I think she says that, because she does not like to talk about certain topics.
There is a lot I can tell about her moods, thoughts, and emotions just by holding her hand. When she is relaxed, she has a very loose hold. When she is interested in what you are saying / gets excited in a good way, she pulse-holds my hand. When she is agitated or upset, she will squeeze so hard, she almost cuts your circulation off. Then she’ll ask, if she was holding on too tight. When she is not particularly in the mood for company or conversation, she will rest her hand on the wheelchair arm and give you her fingers, just to let you know you are welcome.
There are times when she will just stare at me in the eyes, look over my clothes, or watch me as I talk to other people. I will ask, if she needs anything, or if she is okay. Most times she will just smile real bright and say, "No thank you." Other times she will do her, "I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay" chant. Today was a little different. When she was staring at my jacket, she would tell me she needed to upchuck. Believe it or not, I held that pan like a trooper, let her cough it up, wiped her mouth, and let her do it again. She did promise she would not upchuck on me. I don’t recall what we were talking about as we repeated the upchuck process a few times. Out of the blue, she asked me, if she could help me with anything. True to form, here she is again, thinking of someone else’s needs before her own.