Tag Archives: grandmothers

Sympathy, Faith and a Tricycle

My tricycle“The last time I saw you,” she sighed, staring at an afternoon decades ago, “you were wearing a little shirt with a pocket on the chest, and a nappy, and I took you straight off ya Mum and walked down the back of the yard. We had a look at the animals, and you put ya head down on my shoulder. It was a few weeks until Christmas, and..” she paused, puffing out her cheeks before starting again, “.. ya Mum said she’d bring you back then to get your presents.” She pushed at the tablecloth, straightening wrinkles and bumps into temporary submission. She heaved in a breath, looked up to meet my gaze, blinking against the tears falling into the creases of her face. “I didn’t see you again. I didn’t even know if you was dead. Nothing.”

“Oh I’ve missed you,” she choked out. “I never forgot you. Never stopped loving you. Not ever. Not a single day without wondering where you were and if you were okay.”

This was my grandmother; a woman whom I didn’t even know existed until two months earlier. But I could see my face reflected in hers, and finally had a physical, genetic explanation of where my red hair and curves came from. It was our first weekend together (that I could remember), and we stared hungrily at each other’s face, asked questions and tried to fill in the enormous, bewildering gap of over two decades of life (and deaths and marriages, babies, successes and heartbreak) we had lived without knowledge of the other’s experiences.

Over and over again my Nan would say the same phrases, and still does whenever we talk. “I never forgot ya. Never stopped loving ya. Not ever. Not a single day without wondering where you were and if you was okay. It broke my heart.”  I don’t doubt it hurt her. My biological Dad and his siblings have told me of her grief, of their eventual insistence that she not speak of me in their hearing because of the pain it caused all of them. I couldn’t imagine what it meant, or felt like, to lose a granddaughter – the first grandbaby born to the family – in such a sudden, inexplicable and deliberate way. Continue reading

Enough for her

The other day in between attending the temple and picking up a few things at the grocery store, I dropped by the nicest assisted living home in town to see my grandmother. Grandma Jacobs was, of course, happy to see me. We both enjoy our visits together. If I’m alone we sit opposite of each other so we can see one another’s faces. If one of the kids is with me, sometimes I will squeeze in right next to her and wrap my arm around her in a constant half-hug. Not unlike the many times I would snuggle any one of my babies close to my heart in a desperate effort to breathe in and capture their infant presence forever, I want to hang on tightly to my grandmother. A feisty and funny ninety something, she is ever hopeful that one of these days she will simply move from this life to the next in her sleep. Continue reading

Not long on longevity

I flipped the TV on as I pulled clean sheets onto my bed. The man on the screen explained the antioxidant powers of fruits and vegetables. He demonstrated how to make this broccoli, pepper, apple, banana (with peel) juice he drank daily and swore allegiance to a diet with no saturated fat—all necessary to ensure a long life. It gave me pause. Longevity is not my goal.
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My grandmother is 98. Every day my mother goes over to the assisted living place where my grandmother lives and lays out her clothes and jewelry, inventories the Depends and blue chucks, reads her mail, pays the bills, and cuts up the food for her lunch and helps feed her. It’s usually a couple of hour-long excursions. It is not easy, deliberately hefting and lifting a now slightly shrunken, 5’ 9” woman between a bed and wheelchair. It’s not just the physical caregiving that is tough. Each day brings an emotional roller coaster. My grandmother’s mind is now so easily confused, it easily loses its tenuous grasp on reality and life in the present. It unearths skeletons, issues, emotions, fears buried for years, and is so easily caught up in imagined realities. Continue reading