Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Reflections on my Grandmother
Friday my cousin and I went to pack my grandmother's things at the nursing home. She sure had a lot of stuff in that room. It was very hard to do and all of grandma's friends and caregivers came by to see us and express their condolences. For some reason I thought that people in jobs like that, exposed to sickness or death in hospitals or nursing homes, didn't get too attached. I was so wrong. They cried right along with us.
I had to chuckle when we opened up the last drawer in her dresser to find a drawer dedicated to candy. Marshmallows and suckers and chocolates. Oh my! I am sure I will have a candy drawer myself someday. If you talk to my friend Lisa she will tell you stories of the shoe box I kept under the bed as a kid, filled with candy. The sweet tooth gene certainly runs in our family. Dessert was always mandatory when you went out to eat with my grandma. Even if you couldn't finish your meal, you could finish a dessert.
Sunday and Monday were very, very long days for us. When I woke up on Sunday, I just wanted it to be Tuesday morning.
Sunday was visitation. We were able to share a lot of funny stories about grandma with our family and friends. They knew my grandma but they didn't know how in the past year she started eating stuff she never ate before in her life. Her appetite totally changed. She started eating things like chili and cheeseburgers and put ketchup on everything. She told me she had her first cheeseburger earlier in the year. I am not sure if I believe that or not!
She also learned how to operate an elevator by herself at age 88. She and her sidekick Margaret decided they wanted to go downstairs and they did not need assistance. Margaret is in a motorized wheelchair and she gets on the elevator first. It takes awhile for her to get the chair inside the elevator. Meanwhile, the elevator door closes and my grandmother never made it on the elevator. Margaret is alone and she is gone. She cannot reach the buttons and is terrified. When the elevator comes back up to the 2nd floor and the door opens to Margaret's very upset face, my grandmother is laughing. This is just one of many stories we have from her time in the nursing home.
When you think of nursing homes, you tend to think of all the bad things. Like bad nurses or poor care. My grandmother's home was anything but. She loved the staff and they loved her. She had (in my opinion) the best year of her life in 2008. Margaret and my grandmother would like to sit outside when the weather was nice and they would giggle like school girls when they would greet everyone walking by. They were always together. They never missed bingo games and I enjoyed sitting with them. My grandmother was always very lucky and would win frequently. Granted, the stakes weren't high. Regular bingo paid 25 cents and the coverall paid $1.00. One of my family members counted up all her change from bingo winnings and she had over $100!
My grandmother loved to play cards. She and Margaret would put on their floppy hats and sit out on the balcony and play cards all the time. They recently dressed up for their Halloween party and my grandma won a prize for scariest costume. She was dressed up as a devil. Also our state fair has a contest for the Ugliest Lamp. It can be a lamp you create or something that was just butt-ugly in it's original unaltered state. My grandmother decorated a lamp for the contest and it certainly qualified! It didn't win, but she enjoyed the contest and we got to see it on display at the fair and a local restaurant. We were so proud of her.
We were able to share some of these stories with our friends to keep us from crying too much at the funeral home.
Monday (yesterday) was the funeral. It was very cold and were were hoping for some big fluffy snowflakes as she loved to watch the snow fall. We did get a little but it was mostly sleet. The music my mom picked out was lovely and the acoustics of the very old beautiful church made the music even more powerful. The Ave Maria sung in latin was something that would make me cry, even if I was not at my grandmother's funeral. Very powerful.
It was an overwhelming day.
Tonight I was getting out some Christmas decorations and set up the nativity scene. My grandmother made them in ceramics many, many years ago and I think everyone in our family has a set that she made. They were special to me before, but now, they have even more meaning.
I think of all the things my grandmother created and I know I owe my creativity to her. Thank you grandma for such a wonderful gift.
Your loving spirit will always live on in us.