The Distance from 2 to 99 is Shorter Than You Think...
Today was my grandmother's 99th birthday. My husband and I took her to eat catfish at a local restaurant she likes. We invited other family members to come along. Joining us were my sister, my cousin and his wife, and of course... Timothy, who was probably Mam-ma's favorite guest. Actually, it was probably a toss-up between him and my husband, and she sat between two of her favorite fellows. Having my cousin across the table made her day complete.
Mam-ma is tired. She looked well and ate fairly well, but when I phoned her this morning, she said she was going back to bed for a while. She said, "I think it's all downhill from here." Of course, in true "Mam-ma fashion," she told Timothy a couple of minutes later, "I feel purty good," when he asked her "You feelin' good?"
Timothy spent the night with us last night. He was so exhausted from a full week of early mornings and long days at daycare. Since my sister works the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift at a local nursing home as a nurse's aide, he has to be dropped off at daycare at 5:30 a.m. He does take a 2-hour nap (sometimes longer) each day, and he goes to bed early, but it's still tiring for a 2-year-old. So he came to our house tired and cranky yesterday, and he spent the first hour or so alternating between playing with toys and standing at the window and crying, his lower lip protruding... saying, "I sad." Broke my heart.
I finally persuaded him to take a bath, and after soaking and playing with his toys for a while and watching "Jack's Big Music Show," he was rejuvenated and actually played and sang and was a very happy little boy until bedtime. Thankfully, he has begun going to bed without much fanfare... three stories, two songs, lights out, and he was asleep. Thank you, LORD! However, he did awaken this time at 2:00 a.m. and was unable to settle himself back to sleep. So we had to watch some more "Jack" and "Wonder Pets" and snuggle for awhile. I put him in bed with me, and he finally went back to sleep before 4:30 a.m. and slept until 8:30. But just before he succumbed to a second round of slumber, he leaned down from watching "Wonder Pets" and planted a big, spontaneous kiss on my face. How can you argue with that?!
Today, my husband and I juggled tending to Mam-ma and Timothy throughout the meal. My husband is such a blessing, and I couldn't manage without him. He took one vehicle and drove to the ALF to pick up Mam-ma. The car seat was in our larger SUV, and we decided Mam-ma might not be able to climb into it at this stage. So I drove Timothy to the restaurant. After lunch, Timmy went home with my sister, so I swapped cars with Greg and drove Mam-ma back to the ALF. The maneuvering of a walker into the back of the car is not the same as fastening a toddler into a car seat, but the amount of finagling and rigamarole required is about the same for both.
Once settled back in her room, Mam-ma sat on her bed and talked of resting. I figured she would have afternoon company. Morning visitors had happily disrupted her plans to "go back to bed," and as I suspected, she had several guests this afternoon. She complained that she is not able to make the walk to her friend's apartment in the evenings for tea and have any energy left to enjoy herself. She also complained that her pants were too tight and she was miserable. She changed pants, and I took her sharp sewing scissors and snipped some elastic loose from those she wore to lunch... giving her needed breathing room for next time!
I told Mam-ma she needed to rest in case company came, and I gave her a hug and a kiss... and she cried - just as Timothy had cried at the restaurant when I hugged and kissed him and told him he was going home with his grandmother. They cried for different reasons, but at the end of the day, "I sad" would pretty much cover both of them. And just like I was unable to console Timmy as he cried and couldn't get back to sleep, I have no answers for Mam-ma at this stage, either, except to tell her that the LORD clearly is not ready for her and she must still have things to do here! Mam-ma may very well surprise me and live to see her 100th birthday, but I have my doubts. Life is just beginning for Timmy... but for my grandmother, it's winding down fairly quickly. He is tired from so much play and the daily absorption of tons of new knowledge.... she is weary from 99 years of learning and living. So many similarities exist between a 2-year-old and someone who is 99. The number of years that distance their ages may be vast, but the span of emotions and reactions to them is shorter than you think.
Mam-ma will probably tell others she had a wonderful time, but her limited attention span and hearing loss keep her from fully engaging in conversations and interactions with others now, and it didn't seem like she had all that much fun from my vantage point. Truly her favorite part of the day was feeding the mountainous plate of chocolate cake and fudge-topped ice cream the restaurant bestowed upon her to Timothy...one gooey spoon at a time. And that's good enough at this stage, I suppose. We were together... we celebrated and gave cards and gifts, hugs and kisses, and shared a meal. What else is there, really? I'm glad we had this day... and that we got to share it as a family. Time will tell if we get to do it again next year.