Things have gone pretty smoothly of late with my grandmother's care. She has been fairly agreeable, and she has thanked me often - and told me numerous times that she loves me. Last week I took her to our local hospital for an outpatient check of her pacemaker. I dropped her off at the covered walkway adjacent to the cafeteria, since we planned to have lunch there afterward. It was a short elevator ride to her appointment.
Sunday, my grandmother phoned to ask, "Is it hot at your house?" Yes, I assume it was the same temperature here as it was three miles on the other side of town. The real purpose of her call was not determined... and that's okay. At least it wasn't as bizarre as her call the Sunday before:
Mam-ma: "Are your mother and Lee gone?"
Me: "Yes, they went to have lunch with cousins in Quitman."
Mam-ma: "Well, I just wondered. Lee wasn't at church. Your momma was there, but I didn't see him, so I wondered if they were okay."
Me: "I don't know what to tell you. Maybe he had to stay home and do something to get ready for their trip to Branson tomorrow."
Mam-ma: "Well, I seen him headed toward the basement."
Me: "The basement where?" (Their house has a basement.)
Mam-ma: "The basement at church - that's where he parks his truck."
Me: "So Lee was at church?"
Mam-ma: "No, he wasn't at church. He must have taught his Sunday School class and then left."
Me: "Well, Mam-ma, I don't know what to tell you. Maybe he got sick or something."
Mam-ma: "Well, he played his trumpet with the band."
Me: "So how did he play his trumpet if he didn't go to church?"
Mam-ma: "He played with the band, but he didn't go to the choir after that."
Me: "So he was at church?"
Mam-ma: "Yes, but he didn't stay."
Me: "I don't know what to tell you. Obviously they have both gone to Quitman, so he must be okay now."
This was a bizarre conversation, to say the least. I also told her at least twice that my mom and her husband were going to Branson for a week, so that my mom could do interviews and research for a book she is writing about the history of the entertainment industry in Branson.
That evening, I related this conversation to my mom, and she said, "That is so weird. I talked to your Mam-ma when we got home, and she asked if Lee was okay, and I said yes, and she said, 'Well, I didn't see him at church.' I told her he was there and played his trumpet and sang in the choir as usual, and she said, 'Well I never saw him.'" (Insert theme music from The Twilight Zone here!)
I tell all of this to explain my title - you knew I'd get to it eventually! Several weeks ago, Mam-ma called one night and asked me if I thought she should have her air conditioner serviced, "just in case it doesn't work when I turn it on." Now first of all, Mam-ma's house probably never gets any cooler than 85 degrees, so an air conditioner working at half capacity would most likely serve her needs just fine. But I told her that it was up to her... the big worry on her part was whether she could afford it. I assured her she could afford to have the unit serviced, but my husband told her that she should turn it on, see if it worked, and then decide if she needed service. That was the last we heard about the air conditioner... until last night.
My phone rang about 6:30 p.m. as I was preparing our dinner... Mam-ma.
Mam-ma: "Debbie, I think maybe I better have my air conditioner serviced."
Me: "That's fine. Call Ricky (my cousin who used to work for a local company who did work on heating and air conditioning units) and ask him who you should contact.
Mam-ma: "I just got off the phone with Ricky. He told me to call XYZ.
Me: "Fine. We've used him before. Call him tomorrow."
Mam-ma: "Well, I'm not sure I can afford it."
Me: "We've been through this before... you can afford it."
Mam-ma: "Well, I really don't need it right now, but you just never know. It's working fine for me, but I am just thinking about other people."
Me: "You sleep on it, and if you want to call someone tomorrow morning, go ahead. Have them send a bill, and I will pay it."
Figuring out why Timothy is cranky and crying is often a much easier dilemma than trying to decipher some of these "adult" conversations! In the end, I can see that my grandmother is slipping, becoming more forgetful, and losing concentration. I am taking one day at a time with her... and honestly, I find myself feeling more patient. I know the time is short...and I am sure she senses that, too. For now, we are taking things as they are, and as she would put it, trying to "make do."