By April Dye, Contributor to US Daily Review.
I was at my grandmother’s house today to help her get ready for a “dinner party” my uncle planned for her birthday. I came over after work with the kids to help get her dressed and put on her makeup. Now she can still dress herself, it takes a while sometimes and well, let’s just say her makeup doesn’t look quite as good as it used to. We wanted her to feel pretty and special. She will be 82.
She has moved from the small town where she has lived for over 70 odd years to live about 45 miles away to a bigger “city” where my uncle and I live. A few years ago she had a mini-stroke and really recovered well with only some weakness on her right side. But about 2 years ago she fell and my uncle found her passed out. We think she hit her head in the fall and well…she just hasn’t been the same.
Her hearing was already bad but she now pretty much refuses to wear her hearing aids – they don’t work she says. She forgets names, places and things. She can’t drive and spends a lot of time by herself. My uncle sees her everyday and I try to come by at least once a week.
But as I watched her tonight, waiting for my uncle to come back from the store, I saw a woman who used to be so in charge of her life look like a small child who sometimes can’t find the words she wants to say, can’t remember things she used to and I saw the slump of her shoulders when she talked about wanting to drive – knowing that she shouldn’t but couldn’t really understand why.
Sometimes we laugh when she mishears something we say or calls us other names but maybe we laugh to keep from crying. This is a woman who raised three sons, took care of her husband of almost 50 years until he died of a heart attack at 66 and who was a prominent member of her church who drove by herself to her house in the mountains in the summers, who took a cruise to Alaska with some girlfriends and just made sure everybody was taken care of. She may have sometimes come across as abrupt but she is just matter of fact in her opinions, and not afraid to let you know it. She may have sounded begrudging if she helped you out but she always did it with love in her heart. She would never say no, at least that I know of.
It’s odd how some people age with grace and keep their mental and physical health to ages in the 90s and 100s and then some who one day can’t drive, can’t remember and have to have family take care of them.
I love my grandmother, she is the last grandparent I have living and I hope that she knows I love her as much as I do. She has always taken care of me and I hope I can give her at least a little of what she has done for me.
I try to visit at least once a week, I should do more but life with two kids and a husband doesn’t leave me with much free time after work and on weekends – no excuse really, I know. But when I do visit, I take my kids, because as I tell them she is my grandmother and I love her and she likes to have company and she loves us. We usually come bearing food or take her out to eat. I know she enjoys seeing the kids and getting to get out of her condo once in a while besides to the doctor or beauty shop.
I will always remember the grandmother who would wake us up to a microwave honey bun and milk. Who made home made mac and cheese. Who would drive 7 hours to visit me and my sister even if it was just for the weekend. Who I only saw cry once when my grandfather died. A woman who loves her family with a passion. Now she isn’t the type to shout it to the rooftops but if you were to dare say anything against them, watch out. She is my biggest champion and always shows me unconditional love – even as she tells me I need a perm (80-90s) because my hair looked terrible or to fix my hair because my ears were sticking out (that was just a few weeks ago).
One day she will be gone and I won’t have any grandparents to share this life with. But I cherish the time I still have with her and look forward to the life we will have together again.
Happy Birthday Grandma, I love you.
April Dye is a wife and mother of two. She loves to read, watch movies and television, study the Bible, hang out with family and her job. You can follow her on face book at facebook.com/AprilVestalDye and clardye.blogspot.com.