Monday, August 10, 2009

All a Matter of Perspective...

I've been catching up on correspondence with others on the Caregiving forum at keeps me humble and helps me to appreciate the situation I have and how relatively well things are going with my grandmother - at least now. These posts and the genuine problems of others also point out to me that even when things are operating smoothly, my grandmother will somehow find ways to try to create a problem! Maybe she is one of those people who thrives on chaos!

Thursday we were headed down a neighborhood street as we returned from the beauty shop. We passed a tree service crew cutting pine trees in front of a home, and Mam-ma said, "I sure would like to have that cedar tree in my back yard cut. Ricky (my cousin) says someone who knows about electricity and all would have to to it." I reminded her that the tree is really my mother's to deal with, and that her plate was so full right now that I doubted she would consider it. (Mom owns the house in which my grandmother resides.) Then when we got out of the car, she pointed to that pine tree where her outdoor light and flower bed are, and she said, "And that tree needs to be cut down!" I asked why, and she said, "It's dead!" I looked at it, and it is NOT dead... and I told her, and she said, "Well, every time it storms, limbs come out of it." I told her that's just how pine trees do... every limb has green needles on it... it is NOT dead.

Mam-ma was fairly confused Thursday about a few things... she told me she had fixed a gift for a couple who is having a Golden Wedding Anniversary celebration - Bill and Gail - "you know, they are Sis's mother." Sis is actually BILL's mother! But I let that one slide. As I left, I voices talking. I started to get into the car and still I heard voices. I looked around and finally walked back into the garage, and Mam-ma was stepping out her door and talking away. I went back and asked what she was saying, and she said, "I was just wondering what you spent your money on." I realized she was asking about the birthday money she gave me a month ago. I told her "odds and ends... some scrapbooking things I wanted and such." She said, "Well... whatever (her reaction to many things)... I didn't know if you would buy something big with it or what." She gave me $40 and another $20 "for you and Greg to go out to eat." I felt bad that I couldn't tell her something specific I bought with it, and I said, "Hmmm...well...I bought a blouse yesterday, so maybe that was it." She said again, "Well whatever." I guess I should have made a point to tell her SOMETHING that I bought. Forty dollars is a lot of money to her, so it was a big deal.
Maybe I can come up with something to show her that I've bought recently and say it was with my birthday money. I'm getting a thank-you card ready to stick in the mail. I will say this for her... she almost ALWAYS mails us a thank-you card when we give her a gift for her birthday, Christmas, or any other holiday.

Mam-ma had wrapped up a little china cup and saucer from her cabinet for the anniversary party, because they were rimmed in gold and it is the Golden Anniversary. And she had me buy two towels at Wal-Mart today for another shower on the 29th - for the daughter of her church's Minister of Music. We got them all bagged up and ready to go. It tok forever, but Mam-ma hobbled to her spare bedroom and gathered a sack full of gift bag options and another bag filled with tissue paper. In my opinion, little ladies like Mam-ma shouldn't even be concerned with taking a gift, but you know that would never fly! And Mam-ma was adamant that the wedding anniversary bag had to have a gold bow... "because it's the Golden Anniversary." So we got both bags filled, tissued and ribboned, and she was satisfied

Bless her heart... Mam-ma is just declining - no two ways about it. She looked awful when I picked her up, and she said, "I'm havin' this mess (her hair) cut off today." And the hairdresser did give her a short haircut, but it looks very nice. And she had not taken her medicine Wednesday night OR Saturday night. She said Saturday night she got busy with the wedding (and domino party that preceded it!). I admit, I should have thought to remind her to take her meds, since she went from that domino party to the wedding. But I don't know what happened the other night. She had complained almost the whole way to the beauty shop about how she didn't sleep the night before and kept getting up and reading and just didn't know what was wrong. I pointed out it could have been not taking her medicine... that was a Coreg for blood pressure, her Nexium for acid reflux, and her Synthroid for her thyroid. She said, "Well, I"ll take it tonight." I told her to only take the medicine for THIS night... not to try to make up for lost ground!

Mam-ma also had me get bow-tie pasta for her at the store... she said she can no longer roll out her dumplings for chicken and dumplings. My sister told me afterward that you can buy really good frozen dumplings at Wal-Mart. I didn't know that, but I will investigate. (My friend Karen is amazed that she is 97 and has eaten chicken and dumplings all her life. I pointed out she has also cooked with LARD! Longevity is obviously not solely about the diet!) I've made Mam-ma stew a couple of times with bow-ties, and she had never eaten them before, but liked them. She has pretty well NEVER eaten pasta in her life until recently, and she has always said, "I don't like spaghetti." I never even knew her to enjoy macaroni and cheese. But she asked if I thought the bow-ties would work for dumplings, and I told her they would not thicken like dumplings, and she said, "Well, I'll add some flour and water." So I bought her two boxes. I told her if she plans to have leftover chicken and dumplings the next day, don't add too much thickener, because the noodles will absorb liquid overnight. So we will see how this goes. I should be cooking for her more often... I say I am going to, and then "life" happens and I don't, but I must really make a concerted effort to do that.

So now my mom is home from her summer Workamping assignment, and Mam-ma is busy conjuring up things for Mom to do. It started with a funeral over the weekend that Mam-ma called Mom about and mentioned in a forlorn voice that "I should go, but I don't have a way." Mom didn't even know that my grandmother knew the person who had passed, but he was Mom's classmate, and she was going, so she offered to take Mam-ma along. Almost instantly, Mam-ma thought of several reasons she SHOULDN'T go... the heat, the crowd, and more. All she really wanted was to "yank the chain" a bit and make Mom feel like she was neglecting her! She did NOT go to the funeral. And Mom said she was completely miffed when she learned that Mom is going to Branson for a few days this week. Nothing changes for Mam-ma whether Mom is home or away, but she makes a really big deal out of it... I guess it has some "guilt" value!

Sunday at church, our new pastor was asking me what Greg and I do, and I told him that one of the on our list is to care for my 97-year-old grandmother who lives at home alone. He was stunned... "Ninety-seven, and she lives at home alone? I have to go SEE her!" I told him we could arrange that - that she is a hoot - but she attends the Baptist church. (We are Methodist.) He quickly shot back, "I don't care... I still want to meet her." I told him what I meant was that she will try to recruit him for HER church! He laughed and said, "That's fine... I still want to meet her!" So we will do that sometime, and I have no doubt that Mam-ma will ADORE Bro. Tommy. However, it will not score any points for her pastor, Bro. J.R., who is already "on her list" because he doesn't visit her at least once a month! Now, he probably sees her every Sunday at church, but she feels he should take time out from all of his duties to stop in and SIT with her for an hour or so at least once a month. I wonder... has she considered he would have to schedule an appointment between HER other visitors, phone calls and galavanting?!

So today I am praying for those on the Caregiving forum and others who are dealing with extraordinary challenges... like the woman who is trying to manage the care of her three teenage boys AND her 70-something mother who is physically debilitated and in need of daily assistance in order to function on a basic level in her home. I am thinking of those who are sitting in a hospital with an ill or injured family member, uncertain of the future, while their own family struggles to make it through the day back at home. I am thinking of a 50-something grandmother who is caring for her new grandson on the weekends so his mother can work, while she is also managing the care of her husband, who has cancer of the liver. Somehow in the scheme of things, wrapping towels and teacups, making a stew and writing a thank-you card for birthday money don't seem all that important.

No comments: