Friday, November 7, 2008

Kick off your boots, come sit a spell...

"...Listen to me worry, come and listen well."

So I haven't been able to get much done for myself here so far. See, I am here to help out my grandparents and *not* myself. Usually, there is lots of nap taking and down time, meaning I can get some stuff done for me in addition to doing my duty. This time...

Since my grandfather got sick, he has not once come down to see me when I visited. My interaction with him has always been taking him his food and checking in occasionally. (He usually only had enough strength for a minute or two of conversation anyway.) For *this* visit, dude has been up and about! He's come downstairs for every single meal! That's awesome!

It's also quite sobering. All his life, he's been very good at making it seem like everything's fine with him, whether he knew what was going on or not. He'd pretend to know about topics when he didn't. When his hearing began to fade, he'd say just enough to make you think he knew what was going on. Now that he has Alzheimer's, his old habits can still fool you. So maybe he was able to throw me off previously when I was just visiting for a minute or two. Now that he's up and about (relatively) I can see him when the guard comes down. He plays along, but gets tripped up. Seeing what was supposed to be an invincible man show weakness really can get to you.

Side story: When I got here, I met his hospice nurse as she left. She was very sweet and everyone loves her. Her name starts with an A. When I visited granddad later, I complimented him on how healthy he looked. He explained he was squeaky clean from his bath. I remarked that I'd briefly met his caretaker and that she seemed sweet. Then I turned to him and said something along the lines of, "Oh shoot, I've already forgotten her name. I hate when that happens!" Classy, Chrispy.

On the other end of the spectrum is my grandmother, who is wickedly smart and one of the most interesting people anyone could ever know. We've been talking quite a lot - politics, social issues and ye olde family tales - with the conversations going for hours. It's very enriching...but time consuming! She's *also* feeling better, so extra rest time is no longer required. In true elderly bliss, she tripped yesterday - and managed to do the old "break into a job while regaining one's balance" thing. This is a HUGE DEAL when one is 83 and has a bad knee. Everyone's energized!

Is it just a precious moment when things are bright - or is it the presence of hospice? They only come twice a week, but they take care of the difficult tasks. Without the strain, both grandparents are doing better. It's lovely and wonderful that I still have time to connect with her and just be there for him - BUT HOW AM I TO GET ANY DAMN ART DONE!?

Eh, I'll trade my productivity for their vitality any day.

(opening lines cribbed from Natalie Merchant)

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