Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Grandma NC

I only have one living grandparent. And she was put in hospice care today.

My grandma and I were never close. It isn't that I don't like her, but I can't really say that we ever had fun together. I feel bad for not being able to list all the awesome things I love about her that make her the best grandma ever. What I remember most about her is her saying bad things about my mom (her daughter-in-law) and complaining about the fact that my hair got darker as I got older. Oh, and the time she served us jello with mayonnaise on it, and I thought the mayonnaise was whipped cream, so I ate it, and then I almost barfed.

My dad's dad died in some kind of farming accident when my dad was only 10, and my grandma never really got over it. My grandma had to move to town with her three children. My dad, who was the youngest and the only boy, had to teach his older sisters and my grandma how to drive. My grandma started working in a factory that made plush items, like stuffed animals and college-themed blankets and toy mascots. She used to be able to name almost any college's mascot if you asked her. I don't think my grandma had any education beyond high school, but all three of her children went on to get master's degrees.

My grandma's favorite story to tell us was that in high school, all the girls had to make aprons and embroider their initials on them. Then they had to wear those aprons and take turns serving lunch to the school. My grandma's initials were NC, and all the boys called her North Carolina.

My grandma used to ride the bus to school from the farm she grew up on, and the bus was so cold that they would heat bricks by the fireplace as they got ready for school, and then take the bricks on the bus and rest their feet on the hot bricks.

My grandmother lived alone until my freshman year of college. But she was forgetting things all the time. Important things like that she had to eat every day. So my aunt forced my grandma to move into an assisted living facility, and my grandma was so mad. She used to make up crazy things like that the cooks made them eat waffles made only of water. Eventually, she started to really like the home. But she forgot more and more all the time. When I saw her three years ago, she had no idea who I was, but she knew from the way others acted that she was supposed to know who I was, so she tried to fake it. When I saw her two years ago, she pretended like she was asleep so that she wouldn't have to talk to me. When I visited her town in May, I didn't go visit her. I knew that she was being taken care of, I didn't want to make her uncomfortable, and I didn't want to see how far she had deteriorated. I don't feel bad about that decision, but I do feel bad for not feeling bad.

Today my dad told me that my grandma hasn't eaten in a few days and the only word she will say is water. She can't get in and out of a bed, so she pretty much lives in a wheelchair that can recline. My grandma used to walk two miles every single day and walk to the post office every day to chat with everyone who came in about what was going on around town. And now... I don't know. I just pray that she is comfortable.

So I realize that this post just consists of my random, jumbled thoughts, but I feel jumbled right now. I don't know.

23 comments:

abbersnail said...

I understand. I talked to my parents today, and asked about my grandparents (all four of whom are still living). All they could say was, "Well... they're getting really old, really fast." I felt my stomach drop.

KM said...

I'm in a similar situation with my living grandparents. They live in the same city we do, but I don't feel the need or want to see them, so I see them about 3x a year. They kind of black-balled our family 20 years ago. I hope they're doing well.

I hope your grandma is comfortable and well cared for.

stacey said...

I only have one grandmother left, she is also in a home. I was never that close to her either. My Aunt is the one who basically takes care of her needs while she is in the home...brings her candy, takes the phone calls from the nurses. Yeah, the nurses call my aunt a lot because my grandmother flashes the male nurses. :) I hope that made you smile. It's true.

I hope your grandma is comfortable and it's okay if you are not that close to her.

Jess said...

This is a really eloquent post. I had a similar relationship with my grandmother, who was my only surviving grandparent, and I also felt bad about not feeling bad and generally jumbled when she started deteriorating. It's an awkward position to be in but it sounds like you're dealing with it pretty well.

3carnations said...

I understand. My grandparents have all passed away, all within 2 years of one another - Two of them within 6 months of one another. When the first one passed away, I didn't visit my dad's mom while I was there because she had just moved into a nursing home and my dad said she was very angry at everyone because of that. I felt very guilty when she passed away soon thereafter. I made sure to visit my one remaining grandparent, who was healthy at the time, while I was there for her funeral. She passed away before I visited again, too.

I wouldn't feel bad for not feeling bad...We hear so many stories about so many people so close with their grandparents...Not all of us experienced that closeness. I'm one of those people, and like you, my lack of connection has always felt strange...But it's there nonetheless.

Wow...that was a very rambling comment! :)

Allie said...

I too can relate - most of my family I do not know very well and when I hear that they are ill or when they may have passed it leaves me with such a strange feeling- what I should feel, what I do feel, what I wonder about myself for the two not matching up.

I will send vibes of comfort and ease to your grandmother.

Kim said...

I'm not close with my paternal grandmother and never really have been. She lives far away (in another province about a 12 hour drive away) but that's not the only reason.

I guess we've never shared any experiences together and whenever I would see her it was always awkward. I probably compared the relationship I have with her to the amazing one I have with my maternal grandmother and things didn't add up.

I haven't seen her since my grandfather died, almost 10 years ago and whenever I hear that she's getting older and not as healthy anymore, I feel guilty for not reaching out more. Then I realize that this relationship thing is a two way street and I've tried more over the past few years than she has. I love her because she's my grandmother but have accepted the fact that we'll never be close.

I hope your grandmother is well cared for and comfortable too.

Operation Pink Herring said...

My grandmother lives about a 3 miles from my mom's house, and her house is about 500 feet from the highway exit I take when I visit home. And yet, I haven't visited her in years. Every time I do visit, she ends up crying and then shooing me out because she has so much "work" to do. I could not say it better than you did: I don't feel bad about not seeing her, but I DO feel bad about not feeling bad.

-R- said...

First, I don't mean to imply that my grandma should have gotten over the death of my grandpa. Second, in case it's not clear, she was in an assisted living place for a few years and then moved to the affiliated nursing home for a few years.

I really appreciate all your thoughtful comments.

Stefanie said...

I just wrote about my grandma a few weeks ago. She's been on her own, too, and getting noticeably older all the time. I'm glad I have good memories of her when she was younger, though. (She complained that your hair got darker???)

I hope she's comfortable, and I'm sorry you feel bad about not feeling bad. (I know what you mean, but you can't beat yourself up about it.)

This is quickly becoming a very long comment, but I have two other things to say. First, maybe if I went on a water waffle diet, I could finally lose some weight. And second, I think I should bring a hot brick for under my feet at work!

Lawyerish said...

This is sad, and you wrote it beautifully. My dad's mother died a few years ago after a long decline from Alzheimers, and to be honest the last memory I have of her is not a pretty one. It absolutely broke my heart to see her so frail and so lost. Sometimes I think it's better not to have that memory, and to think of her how she used to be.

The story about the hot bricks on the school bus is priceless.

lizgwiz said...

I hope your grandma has a peaceful and comfortable passing. Hospice is a really great way to ensure that, from what I hear.

I'm sorry you weren't closer, but if you weren't you weren't. Don't beat yourself up about it.

And when DID your hair get so dark? ;)

nancypearlwannabe said...

I hope she's doing okay. And I hope you're doing okay, too. I was very sad when my grandmother passed away, but happy that it happened so quickly so that she didn't have to suffer. It's hard to watch people get old and frail.

-R- said...

My grandma was pissed off that my blonde Norwegian Lutheran dad from Iowa married a dark-haired Irish/French-Canadian Catholic woman from New Hampshire. All my cousins had blonde hair, and my hair was blonde when I was younger, but it started getting brown when I was in about 4th/5th grade. My grandma was not pleased. Oh my God the Catholic blood was taking over!

nancypearlwannabe said...

Your Mom was from New Hampshire?! That practically makes us sisters. Or something.

Kristie said...

Oh gosh, I am so sorry. I have a Grandpa that's in a similar state right now. We were never very close and I didn't visit him either last time I was in my hometown. I didn't feel bad either because I knew he wouldn't remember me.

I hope that you find peace and that your Grandma does also.

lotus07 said...

Sometimes random, jumbled thoughts make for the best reading. We all have to go through this sooner or later. It helps us all to know that we aren't the only ones that have these memories.

Joni said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandma. It's so hard to see our grandparents age. I remember when they put my dad's father into the nursing home, he was convinced the nurses were trying to control him via the fillings in his teeth. I laugh at the story now, but I remember it was the first time I ever saw my dad cry.

Noelle said...

that was a really well-written post, despite your claim that it was a ramble. I think it's because it sounds all too familiar. Thanks for sharing, and I hope you had some catharsis after getting it all out.

L Sass said...

It's kind of a random and jumbled thing when your grandparents fall in. I hope your grandmother is well taken care of... and you may not have a picture book relationship with her, but it sounds like you do have some nice memories. I'll be thinking of you and your family.

Laura B said...

I'm sorry about your grandma. That's sad. But you should not feel bad about not feeling bad. I hope she is comfortable and in peace.

Christine said...

You are completely allowed to feel jumbled right now. I'm so sorry. Watching someone go, is just awful.

Sending some comfort your grandmother (and your) way.

LaraB said...

R, honey, I'm sorry. I wish there was something I could say to make it easier.