Monday, January 11, 2010


Today is Grandma's 84th birthday.  Kristen, myself and the boys went to visit her at the nursing home.  I hate having to say that.  Nursing home.  All at once I'm flooded with memories of smells and images of the elderly that sometimes line the halls at that place.

She looked good.  Grandma.  For 84, she looks really good.  The doctors say she has dementia but I often question this diagnosis.  Mom and Dad seem to think she's getting worse.  I have yet to see that side of her.  Whenever I visit, she's pleasant or at least similar to how I've always known her.  Seeing her doesn't make me reminiscent of the day when she was more herself.  She seems to me to be the same Grandma I've always known.  She was funny, a little rude, and a little crass.  

What I did notice was how differently she was dressed.  Grandma always dressed up.  She always had a colorful blouse on with a brooch.  Sometimes a scarf, always a hat.  Sun bonnets were her specialty, she always had one on. In the off chance she would take it off, I always seemed to sit on it by accident.  Boy, did that make her mad.
She always appeared stiff to me and sometimes I actually could hear the rustle of her clothes.  They never felt soft or comfortable.  As a child I always wondered if when she got home she put on comfy pajamas.  I never saw her in pajamas really.  I knew Grandma as the well dressed one in the family.  Certainly, no one else dressed the way she did.  Always in her Sunday's best.

When we arrived at her room today she was in bed, wearing a gown and white socks.  Not much else.  Her hair was messy and she wasn't wearing her glasses.  Later after the nurses came they dressed her in a really cute blue sweatsuit.  For once I thought, she looked comfortable.

but I wondered at the same time how uncomfortable she must feel.

Jacek and Aidan didn't get close to her.  She was saddened by this.  As much as I wanted to push the issue and make Jacek go and hug her, I didn't.  He watched her every move though.  I hope he remembers her.  I kept saying how silly she was.  Great-Grandma is so silly, isn't she?

I'm not good with removing images from my mind.  Once they're there, they stay.  I hid in my parents room when I was 12 after calling 9-1-1 for my father because I didn't want to see him die.  I didn't go into the hospital room after my Grandfather passed, I stayed outside and cried while everyone else went in and said good-bye.  Images stick.  I want my last images of my loved ones to be ones I'm used to, ones I'm comfortable with.

I don't like seeing my Grandma not able to be herself, time erasing bits and pieces of who she is.

I know little of my Grandmothers life.  I listen to stories told by my mother and father. There's been more bad then good.  I've known her for 32 years and have formed my own opinions.  She has always been a good Grandmother to me.  I have always felt her love.

I never want to be in a nursing home where my loved ones have to come and visit making me feel worthless and unimportant in the grand scheme of things.  I never want to be so close to letting go and not be allowed to because for some reason my body is staying healthy while my mind deteriorates.  I don't want to see my Great-Grandchildren look at me with fear in their eyes.

I want my family to be comforable knowing I lived my life and I lived it my way, happily and with as much honesty as I could muster.

I love my Grandma but I hate seeing her in a nursing home. I hate that she doesn't get to wear her Sunday's best anymore.  I hate that once she's gone I will not have any Grandparents.

I hate that life is sometimes nothing like we hope it to be no matter how much we hope.

I hope my Grandfather is waiting for my Grandmother.  I hope he has one of her Sunday's Best, pressed and waiting for her.

I hope when the light shines on her, she is dressed in her Sunday's Best, wearing her butterfly brooch and her sun bonnet with the hat pins on her head.....dressed in her idea of comfortable.

because it is when we our comfortable that we are truly ourselves.

Happy Birthday Grandma.  I love you.


Kristen said...

"When we arrived at her room today she was in bed, wearing a gown and white socks."

You failed to mention or rather you intended to fail to mention her socks did not to me *was* Grandma. Remember the pantyhose on her head?? lol..she did look good, but sad, as I believe she is. It was a good visit nonetheless. Not as bad as I imagined. The boys did my eyes...Jacek laughed quietly with a big grin....Aidan, unsure, but ok. Glad we were together. :)

I miss the days of sitting at "home" in our kitchen with our Grandparents.

Happy Birthday Grandma...I love you!! <3

unioned62 said...

I love your comments about your grandma Arlene. I remember the first time I met her. And you and Kristen are "right on". She is the ultimate "lady" Always very proper with hat, etc. It is sad even to me that she has "faded" a bit, but do we ever truly lose who and what we have always been?? Our personality is there somewhere and I would bet the gleam in her eye still shines and always, always the kisses and hellos she would shower on everyone. I loved the way she and your Grandpa Fred adored you girls. Thanks for the little walk down memory lane. Love ya.
And Happy Birthday to a grand lady.

PolishPrince said...

"because it is when we our comfortable that we are truly ourselves."

I absolutely relate to this last line, whether it's the clothes we're wearing, environment we're in, or state of mind...being comfortable allows us to

I enjoyed this one alot, it brought up long lost memories of my grandparents. God bless them wherever they may be now.

Kerri said...

@ Kristen - yes I did neglect the different socks...that was a bit like the 'ol Grandma wasn't it. and yes, the panty hose on the head...everyone said I'd always end up doing that...haha

@Aunt Marianne..time changes everything but who we truly are stays alive in those that remember..that's why I wanted to write what I remember about my Grandma...because to me she isn't the same lady sitting in a nursing room as she was sitting in Mom's rocking chair in the kitchen. But I will remember and share stories with my boys...

@Darren - you make me comfortable, always have.