Monday, November 18, 2013

When a loved One Forgets Who You Are

When I returned to work after a bout of disability, it wasn't a surprise when  a co-worker didn't recognize me. I'd put on a prednisone weight, had the chipmunk cheeks and switched to contacts.
Oh, and I'd cut my long hair. It was a cute pixie cut right up until I went squirrel and then it just wasn't it cute. I wasn't. It was tough.

But not as tough as tonight, when my Grandma forgot me. I knew it would be coming; the moment she would not know me. But today? This early? With other family members around?
In all fairness, I did look like a hospice worker unloading all sorts of favorite things to make misery more comfortable.
But when she asked me to remind me who I was again in the tone that I was a the worker from some other place; I felt dumped.

First of all, I just stopped mid sanitary sheet; stunned. This was it. This was when my Grandma would not know me. I sorta went into a panic. Yes, I'd avoided visiting for a long time because I had been sick. But so was she. And I had to get to her...

ME: Grandma, it's me, Amanda. I said solemnly holding the card, I'd written her in my hand as if it were the proof we were related

Grandma: "Oh, Mandy! " and she hung her head in her hands. Talk about: "whew,"

But still.....

Sweet Grandma to 'Ol Gramps: "I just forgot Mandy, T." I didn't watch his face but I figure he was feeling sad too. Things have gone down hill fast. I felt like I was on the same hill but traveling slower, and knew I had to get over there.

When you see someone you love suffer from Parkinson's Disease, be prepared to be unprepared.
The jerky movements. the list goes on. All I could do was read my letter to her.
Then she said we needed to get up and go into the room where she could listen to me read the letter.

That made me feel important. So I had to make the whole thing sound fascinating. Which it was not.
However, it was simple and it talked about being simply happy with small things. That was all.

Later on in the evening I was asked to come to her room with the swabs I'd brought over and our special dry mouth cream we love to use. She needed my help. So she had her dinner of protein. I brushed her teeth with the 3M product that is a toothbrush for being bed ridden then I let her dip it in water and suck on it while I cleaned her gums, insides of her cheeks, her tongue. Those remaining teeth.

We pulled out her dentures and got those gums scrubbed. It wasn't a bit bad. I was so happy to do it, I cried. She was very agitated and felt the presence of lots of family in the other room.

Her:" I feel like I need to get up and get busy being a grandma.""

ME: You stay put and let us get busy being grandkids.

So I took the lotions and started in on her feet. Trying to find those muscles that were tight. Tenderly taking in the process of tending to feet that had taken her a lot of places and through a lot of work.
I turned off the lights and let her lillte hydrangea night light glow as I sang the ritual of songs I would sing to Jaden when I tried to put him to sleep.

She fell asleep in her recliner.

Oh, Grandma........
What more could I do for her to alleviate her pain?
We had talked about how she took care of, not one but TWO women in her life time in their old age.
Her mother. Who lived to be 103. And her mother in law, who went only to 97.
Earlier I had gone downstairs to look up some cards online and under
the keyboard was a post card... from her to her mom.
I read it.
Yes, I was nosey.
Her handwriting was beautiful. She wrote about a trip they had taken to D.C.
I'd lived there for a couple months.
My heart was wrenched as I sat in that room my lullabies finished.
I wanted to climb into the spare twin next to her chair and be there for her through the night.
Instead I chose to talk with family  around the dinner table where I eat some dessert with canned raspberry jam.
Can I bare this?
She woke up shortly, needing to use the bathroom.
Damn Bathrooms.
But I hate them. And have a darn good reason to hate them.
And so does she right now.
Where is the dignity in that?
I wanted it to be MY JOB to take care of her. But I have my own problems to be up on.
The holidays are coming and I have revamped my Christmas List.
It is much simpler.
I can't recall exactly what all Grandma said when I asked her the questions I wanted to know.
But she said, "the babies made it worth it."
And we laughed at J's prayer one night that they would remain "cute".
And I told her some sweet stories.
Like how Oh-wee stuck his binky in my shoe. And it was located the next day when I tried to put it on and found something blocking my foot from entering the shoe all the way. I'd like to think he did that on purpose.
Another nephew has had to have his binkies cut up. Caused him to turn into a wild man. Leaving his brother to wonder if he'd turned into the Hulk.
Glad I am not facing that.
I pray that my health stays good enoguh to visit her. And the other way around
I'm zonked.

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