My grandmother fell a few weeks ago. She broke a rib and banged herself up pretty bad, earning a stay in the hospital and some rehab time in the nursing home. It's beginning to get a bit old hat by now. She doesn't like to use her oxygen which causes her to have these "spells". She also doesn't get along well at all with my mother. My mom likes to fuss at her and my grandmother refuses to listen whether out of obstinance or her progression of dementia. As a result, I spend a lot of time trying to mediate between the two and I try to take on as much of the responsibilities as I can.
This afternoon I agreed to go out with her to visit my grandmother and I braced for a frustrating afternoon with the two of them arguing back and forth. When I got there they were wheeling my grandmother out to the patio for an outside dinner. It was a great idea. There were quite a few family members that also stayed for the impromptu dinner and we were able to all chat and relax. The weather was amazing and we were seated with another gentleman that kept my grandmother occupied. Mom floated around the patio talking to several people so for once she and my grandmother weren't at each other. Surprisingly, it was a lot of fun!
The gentleman that sat with us was dressed very nice and carried himself with a lot of pride. At first glance you would only notice a slight tremor in his hand and a cane in the other. He struggled to speak, couldn't eat his sandwich, and had a hard time getting his hands to cooperate. As we sat there I tried to imagine what he was like in better years. Occasionally I could see a glimpse of his true self. He muttered under his breath about two ladies "flappin their jaws". He grumbled about how inconsiderate people were "Can't they see I ain't got no darn teeth? Why would they give me crap like this?" I realized he would have been hilarious to sit and spend time with several years before.
He went back to his room early and I took a moment to look around the patio. I realized that all of these families dealt with their own version of my grandmother. They all complained about the food or the air. They all argued against the doctors' orders. Most of them fought some sort of battle between reality and a muddled version of the truth. I was able to see my grandmother in someone else's eyes.
I hate watching her slowly slip down hill. It was different with my grandfather. I was devastated and traumatized. He was still him to the very end. My grandmotheris gradually transforming and I'm not sure which way she's headed. This afternoon helped me realize that no matter the changes, deep down there are still bits of her visible if I look for them.
I'm going to try to visit her with a much more open mind and a more accepting heart from now on.