It happened again. The 12-Hour Cereal Sale. But this time my husband was with me, giving me dirty looks with every box of cereal I picked up. Yes, I know that we try not to eat cereals that are this sugary....but they would be great for special treats.... I eventually just ignored the looks and piled 15 boxes into the cart...and then a few more. Hey, a few of them had raisins.
Does anyone (besides me) actually say this to their dogs (yes, plural) when they let them out to the backyard one last time before bed? "Okay, be good. Go potty. And don't eat any poop. I will be watching." Seriously. I just said that. And they only listen if I throw in, "Go potty and come back for a treat!" They use me.
So this week marks the first week in which I have completed what I call "Grandmacare." My two boys and I "grandma-sat" two different grandmas. The first is my husband's pleasant grandmother. She has Alzheimer's and is continually amused by any minor daily detail that she notices. It takes the pressure off of being a good entertainer--it is as if the show restarts every 30 seconds (at times). I feel like a stand-up comedian with 30 different takes.
Grandma: Why, this dog is looking at me like he's hungry! Here, I'll just give him this cracker
Me: He is just begging. He will be fed dinner when your daughter returns home.
Grandma: (throws disgusted look at me) I think you must have made that up. Why, he IS hungry! If he's hungry then by golly, I am going to feed him!!
Me: Oh no Grandma, he just has to wait for another few minutes....(Spoken while shielding my eyes from the continued dirty looks. Apparently I'm a dog abuser!).
not even 20 seconds later:
Grandma: Is this dog hungry? He looks as if he might be hungry. Can I feed him this cracker?
Me: Well, he is fed every day, but never seems to be full. He is very good at making us think he's hungry.
Grandma: Well then, I guess I will give him this cracker.
ugh. fail round 2
the time that worked (took about 13 tries):
Grandma: Look here at this dog. Oh, he's hungry! I've got this cracker here. Here, you good doggie...
Me: Oh, please, don't! His doctor told us he will get sick if we feed him "people food." We wouldn't want to hurt him!
Grandma: Well, I guess not.....(while still contemplating sneaking him that cracker)
Me: Thanks. You know, he has some great dog food and will be fed in 15 minutes. He is fed the same time every day so that he doesn't get too hungry.
Grandma: Well doggie, I guess you'll have to wait!
Ahhh....crisis averted (and I wasn't attacked with the "look").
I have to say, at this point Grandmacare is relatively simple. I was going to say it has been relatively not so gross, but I really would hate to curse myself. I have pulled up pants and have plucked a beard, but I would really hate for things to get much worse so early in the game.
Caring for a loved one is easier than caring for a stranger. Witnessing their humility or knowing how humbled they would be if they could see their condition makes me feel like what I am doing--the "being there" is important. It also makes me almost hope for a quick death for myself (preferably with all my friends and family so there would be limited pain for those left behind that knew us) at a not-so-old age. Silly, I know, but it's a hard life to be over 80.
The challenge with the other grandma is motivating her to do....well, anything, really. Wait a minute--it's not for lack of desire or for laziness. She is dizzy. Constantly. Like whoa, where am I, in space dizzy. So anything involving being mobile is out of the question. And even sitting still isn't pleasant with the dizziness. Any activity or craft involving fine motor control with the hands is out of the question due to horrible arthritis in her hands. And she's in a location with no wheelchair access to the outside world. Oh, and she is unable to walk down stairs due to orthopedic conditions. Fun stuff. Don't you wish you were her?
So when I come over to visit with my two children, both full of energy, I am sure we are a sight for sore eyes as well as the cause of more dizziness.... The children love caring for Grandma. They pull out toys, beg her for candy, and she tells them stories. There is depression (her second husband just passed away) and there are stories about all the friends and family whom have passed away. And sometimes I feel I should let her be sad. And sometimes I feel I need to remind her why I love that she's still here.
I really don't think I'm doing anything special or out of the ordinary in regards to these grandmas. If I had it my way I would keep what I am doing (just grandma-sitting, really) quiet. But I know that we all seem to be living longer. So are our parents. I am sure there are others out there already caring for others. And there are people wondering what it's really like, too. So....are you going to go for the "good" nursing home? Or are you going to be like our parents and keep your loved ones near as long as you can?
I tease my parents that they had better be nice (and give me back rubs) because I will be making the decision one of these days.....good nursing home? or ....? ha. It's good leverage, believe me! ;)
I just know that many funny stories are still to come. And perhaps some heart-breaking ones too.