Sunday, March 30, 2008


My grandmother is doing better. Thank you so much for the kind thoughts.

My aunt and uncle moved her to a nursing home near their house. I went to see her yesterday. She was sleeping when I came in. I woke her up, and she seemed pleased to see me. I asked if she was doing okay and if she liked it there. She said. "It's okay, but I have to, I have to . . ."

My grandmother rarely says anything substantive anymore. She doesn't talk about missing her husband who died several years ago and whose death devastated her. She doesn't talk about being scared or lonely or in pain. She never complains. (A few years ago, she complained so much that she was kicked out of an Adventist retirement center. We never told her why.) Anyway, I was pretty shocked that she was going to make a statement about her condition and was quite anxious to hear what she had to say.

She got distracted, but finally picked up the thread, "I have to wait around a lot."

Ah, I thought, I bet. "Are you bored, Nana?" I asked.

"I have to wait around before I can sleep," she said.

I had brought Nana mango juice, and so I ran around the nursing home trying to find a straw. It is a cheerful place. Lots of flowers in the lobby, several community rooms, a garden with fountains and benches, cheery wall paper, nice paintings. The halls were filled with residents chatting, and in the lobby, people were playing board games or watching TV. The only creepy detail: a lady kept screaming, "Help me. Help me. Help me." That was heartbreaking.

Nana took a sip of mango juice and gave a horrified look, the kind of face one makes when tasting something sour. "Delicious." She said. She took another sip and that was that. Though she would occasionally say, "mango" to humor me.

I had barely arrived when Nana looked at the clock with great concern and said: "It's 3:30, I guess I have to sleep." Since I'd only just arrived, I decided to keep her company, regardless of sleep needs. She said, "It's nice of you to come." Then: "I guess you have to go now." Then: "I should probably get some sleep." Finally, I took the hint.


mandy said...

I can sympathize with the "help me." There's always at least one of those...
I'm glad you're able to be there for her, anyway.

Janet said...

I always love your blogs. They are so interesting.

Molly said...

You are right, aging in America is brutal. My grandfather passed away from Alzheimer's this past December, and we spotted those words, "Help me" on the pad beside his bed, among other scribblings. It's haunting. So good that you are there for her though!