Sunday, August 8, 2010

One Step at a Time...

It's been an interesting two weeks with my family.  Last week, we were keeping Timothy, and he was fussy.  We think it was a combination of teething and some booster shots he had gotten.  But he ran a low-grade fever and slept restlessly, then he would be happy for a few minutes before napping again - mostly in our laps.  I left him with Greg to go and do my grandmother's errands on Friday afternoon.

Before I even opened her back door, I smelled gas. When I went in her kitchen, one of her burners was turned on, but not lit. She said, "Oh, I'm sorry." I told her not to apologize, but we have to be careful about those burners! I ran the exhaust fan some and turned on all four burners to try to burn any excess gas that might be floating around the stove... don't know it that's the right thing to do, but it seemed right.

I tried to talk to Mam-ma about our joining our new Community Center, and she said, "Well, I really need to see it first." I asked - had she and Ruby not been out there to look it over? No, Ruby has... she's already taking classes. I explained to Mam-ma that it's $10 a month, with a 3-month minimum, but she can well afford $30 a month. HOWEVER, those classes Ruby takes are extra... another $10 a month. I told her, "For $10 a month, you can walk on the track and swim in the pool. You could also play racquetball and basketball, but I don't see you doing that." She laughed. She said, "What I think I need is that pool. Ruby says that really helps her."

I don't think I ever made her understand that Ruby is not swimming laps or just floating around... she is taking water aerobics... and there is an extra fee for that, which Mam-ma can afford - but she won't like it. I suggested she go with Ruby to a class and just observe and see what she thought. She said, "Well, I really thought that YOU would take me out there to look it over." I told her I could not do that on that particular day, because I had Timmy at home and after her beauty shop I would have cold groceries. But I told her that if she and Ruby had not gone by the end of the week, I would come early on the next Friday and take her to see the facility.

So as I left, I said, "I bet you and Ruby can get out there sometime this week," and she said, "Well, I doubt it. Ruby goes to exercise class... then she goes to swim... and then she goes to work for her friend Gladys. She's got too many irons in the fire." So I'm thinking... if Ruby goes to exercise, THEN to swim, and then to Gladys' house to work, it's not going to work for Mam-ma to go with her anyway. This may all be a total bust. I know what's coming... Mam-ma is either going to want me to take her to the Center every day to walk, or she is going to finagle someone else to do it - like one of her deacons!

Actually, God humbled me by placing my friend Anna ahead of me in the check-out line at Wal-Mart.  Anna is a little older than my mother, and she has been like a second mother to me - our families have always been close. She and her husband have an adult grandson living with them.  He has a daughter nearly two years old, and for some reason, he only sees her every other weekend.  Supervised visits are required, and Anna and her husband, are the supervisors.  So every other weekend, this 70-something couple (who have a myriad of personal health issues) are hosts/supervisors to their great-grand-daughter, their grandson, and the grandson's mother and her husband!  Here I am, much younger than Anna, and she is caring for a child who is almost two every other weekend. GEEZ... I have no room for a pity party! I told her, "Bless your heart!" and I meant it!

Later in the week, I picked up an application for membership at the Community Center.  I realized that Greg and I were not going to utilize the pool for swimming laps, nor would we drive across town to walk on the indoor track when we have our own treadmill.  And I could not see my grandmother getting to that Center several times a week to walk/swim without a huge ordeal for her and everyone else.  So I called her and asked, "Do you want to go to the Center and look around?"  She said she did not... it was too hot (we've had triple digit heat for about two weeks running), and she had about decided the Center was not for her (thank you, God!).  So we opted to dismiss this project.

This past Friday, I went to get Mam-ma for her hair appointment, and she was confused and whining about how she "can hardly go." When I opened her medicine compartments, she had missed a LOT of medicine last week... Saturday, Monday and Tuesday mornings, and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights! I showed her - she argued that she had NOT forgotten - and then she said, "Well, I'm sorry." Again, I told her, "Don't apologize, but when you say you are out of sorts and can't go, this might be why. Your body gets used to having this medicine three times a day." So now my mom is calling her every morning, and I'm calling her every evening to remind her to take her medicine. She won't like it, but it beats her going to the nursing home, which is the next step. I honestly don't think that Mam-ma would last six months in the nursing home... and neither does anyone else in the family.

My grandmother's comment about the medicine was, "Well, I haven't died yet!" I told her no, but she wasn't feeling great, either. This is just typical for someone who is nearly 98, and it could be so much worse.  My mom's aunt is in the nursing home here and dying of bladder cancer. In fact, she was transported to Little Rock for a surgery over the weekend- they cauterized a tumor in her bladder to try and stop some bleeding. It was very traumatic for my aunt - and every procedure is painful and frightening to her.  When my uncle died a few years ago, his son swore he would never be back - not even for his mother's funeral.  He lives on the West Coast.  A daughter who lives in New York has written letters to her mother - but she had not visited since her dad's funeral, either, which was 2005 - until this weekend.  I think the son is now planning to visit later in the month - if his mother is still alive.  Basically, my aunt has had no immediate family to see about her for years now.

I can't imagine this, but I know it happens ... and I know there are often mitigating circumstances, so I am not passing judgment.  I am just praying we can keep my grandmother living safely in her own home as long as possible.  And if/when she has to go to a nursing home, I know our lives will change dramatically as we do what is necessary to keep her happy and comfortable there.  Meanwhile, I am realizing just how fortunate and blessed we are, especially in comparison to many others. I'm leaning on God and praying faithfully ... and taking things one step at a time.  So far ... so good!

1 comment:

Heather Mundell said...

Wow, I really appreciate hearing the details of your story because I think it captures so well what so many people are going through as they try to support their aging relatives and tend to their individual lives as well.

Your grandmother and aunt are very lucky to have you! And how lovely to remain grateful throughout your experiences - that's something I could do with practicing a bit more often myself.

Thanks for writing this blog - I'll be back!