Friday, April 4, 2008

"The Home"

Some things are too personal to blog, and I guess that is the true moment in which they should be blogged. If I want to create some sort of on-line diary, I guess I have to write about the really painful stuff as well, even if it does and doesn't have to do with Jordan. By painful, I mean that raw, raking, rip your heart out of your chest shit that you try so hard to block out by throwing up a wall, but that always manages to remain.

Yes, talking about my grandmother here. I imagine I should jump and scream hallelujah that she recognized not only me but Jordan, (she asked about Sofia..."Where's the 'little girl?'" When I asked her if she remembered my husband's name, she replied, "Your first or second?" - only after I gave her the old, starts with an "L", did she remember) but the overall experience has been so horrifying and wrong. I come and go. I come...and go. She remains in that shithole of a place where she is so needy. It's no wonder she has dementia...sundown syndrome to be more exact, I would need to find any possible way to escape from her situation, she chose insanity.

At the beginning of our visits, I can see the old Gram, she looks at me with her Grammy eyes and we connect. The longer the visit, the more the pain clouds those eyes (although I should say "eye" because one is kind of shut - we told her we'd have to get her a pirate patch so she could really look fierce)and then her fears prohibit her from enjoying every single second of every counted minute I have to spend with her.

"Okay, sweetheart, what time are you coming tomorrow? You never stay long enough. You left yesterday without saying goodbye. I looked for you and you weren't there. Your mother only stays ten minutes and then leaves me here...alone. Jo, promise me you'll come tomorrow. Can't you sleep here with me?" And on and on and on. Torture. Guilt.

Try to give a rational response: "Gram, I know it sucks. I live too far away. I wish I could be here with you, you know I love you."

Words just never quite say you just have to go with the look in the eye and hope she understands, and I think she does...really. She said something so traumatic for me to hear, "I have nothing to look forward to. You're in town and now I can look forward to you coming to visit. But otherwise I have nothing to look forward to..."

FTS, shoot me before I ever finish in this condition. And people have issues with euthanasia? Screw them. My grandma is like obsessed with numbers, she repeats them constantly and always tells my mom she needs money to eat dinner or play bingo.
She doesn't need any money there, I'm convinced that she spent her entire life stressing over financial issues, mortgages, bills, keeping the books...because she was the one who took care of that stuff, not my grandfather. It is haunting her even in her state of dementia. She can't find peace and is only suffering.

I don't know. The entire thing is really bad, but we did share an interesting visit. Jordan and I cheered while Gram played balloon volleyball. The ironies of life. My grandmother used to come to all of my sports games, volleyball, basketball and softball and there I was cheering her a nursing she slammed a balloon down the throat of her opponent. Jordan got a kick out of it and laughed. When it was time to go and Gram asked for a kiss from Jordan, he miraculously gave her one. I've already said the nursing home is a rough place for him, he practically started hyperventilating when we got there yesterday morning, but recovered when he found out her tv got Cartoon Network.

The nursing home is no easy place to visit, the welcoming committee when you walk in the door just ain't a pretty sight, although there is one really hip chick of about 95 who has this pair of HUGE red vintage eyeglasses on like the smallest face I've ever seen, she kills me. Then, there is a sort of love affair going on between the Nursing Home Whore (age 85) and this old dude (about 87) who got pissed off when she woke him up from his day-long nap to offer him some ice-cream. She got offended yet remained beside him. My mom said that another patient's mom said that the dirty old man even tried to go up her skirt. Can you imagine that this shit still goes on at age 87? (Thank God)

Anyway, we left the building and I lost it. Jordan asked me why I was crying and I explained to him, maybe for the first time, how difficult it is living so far away from the people I have always loved (I know this is a bit dramatic, even for me, but we had a moment). He is fortunate to have an extraordinary relationship with both sets of grandparents, so he understands what that bond means. He gave me a hug and I told him how PROUD I was that he was growing into such a special person. Let me tell you, staying in that place and seeing your great grandmother in that condition, while your mother is obviously suffering is not an easy thing to do for my sensitive son. Not only that, but after eight years of never being affectionate with relatives and only offering his head to be kissed, giving my grandmother a kiss, was a true act of love towards my grandmother and me.

I honestly don't know how my mom does it day after day. I have to go now...back to the nursing home, and then we're leaving for New York. This is one of those bittersweet visits home.


Christian and Lily's Mommy said...

I call that kiss that Jordan offered to Gram a love letter from God....

Hang in there, try to let go of the are doing all you can.

Anonymous said...

to be a sensitive person put you in the condition to suffer much more than the average.. but it also make of you a very special woman.. :-)

Tiffani Hill-Patterson said...

Even though it's hard, you know you're doing the right thing. It does suck, but you won't regret this time you and Jordan are spending with her.

Thanks for your words of wisdom on my blog, too!

Take care!

Karen Mayes said...

Ahhhh... hard.

I too called my father's mother "Grammy" :o)

Candy said...

Definitely hard! We can only handle what we can and do what we can in whatever circumstances we're in.

K.L. said...

I totally get where you are at. I have one grandmother left, and she has dementia. Up until now my aunt has been able to care for her, but it is getting too difficult, and Grandma will be going into a nursing home soon.

I just wish there were things to say that would help.

Valerie said...

There is nothing harder than visiting a love one in a nursing home. Not only was this visit necessary, but it allows you to remember the time you took to say I love you and how much you mean to me. From one sensitive person to another....take the time for tears, but don't forget the cheering and laughing.

My grandmother was in the nursing home, her body completely with cancer. My husband had just come back from Desert Storm, so my parents came up to Ft. Campbell to greet him. When they got home from the welcome home visit, my grandmother was taken to the emergency room. When my mom came in, she asked did Alex make it back okay. Mom told her all about it and how happy everyone was. Nanny said, good my family is back together, tell Valerie to spend the time with Alex and do not come down. She said thank goodness everyone is home, so now I can go. Love you and good bye. That was it. She held on until she knew her grandson-in-law made it home from war. The hard part is I never got to say goodbye, but I remember she wanted me happy.

Okay this time it is happy tears. Enjoy all the great times at home.

Divided said...

As hard as it may be to see your Gram in this situation...count your blessing you can share this special time visiting Gram and having Jordan by your side. God bless & savor the moment together.

Unknown said...

Hi Everyone,
Thank you for your comments...gosh you guys are deep *smile* Val, beautiful and very sad story, thank you for sharing that...xoxoxo, Jodi

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thanks for sharing your pain. I know it takes more courage to write it than to share it. There is safety in numbers as we go through it, and the numbers are more vast than I ever realized at the time -- before blogging.

I know. My mom died in one of those places. I want to move to Oregon if, God Forbid!, I ever get to that state.