Friday, July 8, 2011

We've Lost Your Grandma...

I visited my grandmother yesterday shortly before noon.  She had worked on hanging baskets of geraniums that morning... removing dead stems.  She asked the maintenance man, James, to lower the plants onto a bench, and she sat and removed the dead stems and flowers.  Now, she was resting before lunch... her feet propped up on her bed as she sat in a chair.  She seemed fine.

I left the ALF and went to my mom's to help her with a computer issue.  Then I shopped for groceries, and I returned home around 2:30 p.m.  My husband's niece was supposed to bring her two children for a visit around 3:00. 

Our niece and her two children no sooner got in the door than the phone rang.  It was the nurse at the ALF... "Is your grandmother with you?"  "No... I was there around noon and saw her. Why?  Is she missing?"  "Well, yes... she wasn't in her room when they went to get her for her beauty shop appointment, and she isn't in the building... and she didn't sign out to go anywhere."  I suggested maybe she was outside walking?  "No," the nurse replied... "a lady sitting on the front porch said she saw Polly get in the car with another lady."  The nurse suggested maybe my grandmother was with my sister?  I told her that was highly unlikely, but I would check and make a couple of other calls. 

I hung up and called my mom. I knew Mam-ma was not with her, but I thought she might have a cell phone number for one or more of Mam-ma's friends via the church directory. She didn't.  I told Mom, "I hesitate to call these ladies.  If Mam-ma is not with them, they will worry - and if she is, they won't be at home!"  So I decided to wait.  I did phone the nurse again and gave her the name of a man who lives across the street at the skilled-care nursing facility.  His wife is in Mam-ma's Sunday School class, and Mam-ma frequently walks over and visits with him.  The nurse said they had checked that building... but not a specific room.  I assured her that Mam-ma had not run away (which she knew) and that she was probably at Wal-Mart, or at a friend's looking at a flower or plant in the garden, or something like that... and she would return soon.

Meanwhile, my sister called... she had gotten a call from the nurse, also.  She wondered if I had found Mam-ma yet.  I told her no, but I would let her know when she was located.
Our company left about 4:30, and I phoned the ALF.  The nurse said she had gone to a secure wing of the facility, but she would page Mam-ma's floor and see if Mam-ma had returned.  When she came back on the line, she said, "She has just come in.  I'm headed down there now to give that little girl a talkin' too!"  I laughed and told her to go for it!

I honestly don't know what happened.  Mam-ma's story is that she told the ladies at the front desk she was leaving.  But she admits she did not sign out on the little sign-out clipboard.  She went with her Sunday School friends... they drove her across the street to play "Chicken Foot" dominoes with another Sunday School member who resides there.  Mam-ma said, "James put my walker in the car... he knew where I was."  In defense of the facility, James was mowing and working in the yard when I left at noon - I'm guessing the staff didn't think to ask him if he saw a little old lady get in a car and drive away! 

At any rate, Mam-ma didn't seem that upset about it, thankfully... so if they got onto her for it, she took it well.  And I am so thankful to know that the staff is that attentive - and that concerned.  Mam-ma said that someone told her they would try to reschedule her for a hair appointment today.  She said, "It doesn't matter if I get my hair done or not!"  Now, there was a time when that was not the case... but I guess a good game of "Chicken Foot" trumps even nice hair!

This little situation resulted in numerous phone calls - back and forth to the ALF... to my sister and my mom to let them know that all was well... and to Mam-ma to check on her and make sure she was okay.  My mom even called Wal-Mart and had my grandmother paged... and she called Mam-ma's friend, Ruby, to see if Mam-ma was there.  Thankfully Ruby didn't answer - she was with Mam-ma playing dominoes!"  I had told Mom that I didn't want to call Ruby, in case she was at home alone and didn't know where my grandmother was.  I knew that would upset her.  But Mom called her anyway... and of course, Wal-Mart...where they paged Polly.  Of course, she didn't answer the page... she wasn't there!

I later told my mom... "It is uncanny that the minute I get busy with someone else, there is a 'crisis' with Mam-ma.  I'm thinking of her stomach bug the afternoon of Timothy's birthday party... and now just as our little niece and nephew arrive from Missouri for a visit, she goes missing!  How is that?!"  Just another reminder that I'm still smack in the Sandwich Generation... and there don't appear to be any changes on the horizon!

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On another note, a dear friend from my church suggested I read a good book on "boundaries."  I selected Boundaries... When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, from Zondervan Press.  I'm almost halfway through the book, and I can already see that it will help me tremendously with a number of relationships.  I am recognizing some of the comments made to me last summer by a gerontologist, i.e. "What makes you think you are responsible for the care of all of these people?"  I am also learning why I have a hard time saying "No" - and how to change that!

I downloaded this book to my Kindle, but this title is available in several formats from, and I highly recommend it.  I think this book would be a great resource for any member of the Sandwich Generation and those who are struggling with the issues of caring for aging loved ones.  I'm sure I will be reading it again and making many notes for reference.  If you think you have no issues with boundaries, you might still find this book helpful.  This could be just the resource that helps you maintain smooth sailing... and preserve your sanity for the long haul!


Mark said...

Glad she wasn't truly lost.

That book sounds like something I should read. Assertiveness of any sort has never been my strong suit -- especially in the "saying no" category.

Paula @ Simply Sandwich said...

Oh my goodness - so glad she was okay! That must have been so scary!

Debbie Robus said...

Paula, I was fairly certain she had simply forgotten to sign out when she left, but yes, it was scary. You just never know with this age group. She could have gotten sick or confused and wandered away and been gone for hours. I am very thankful the staff was so concerned.

Heather Mundell said...

So glad your grandmother wasn't lost!

Thanks for the book recommendation - sounds GREAT for the sandwich generation!