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Not long on longevity

By Leslie Graff

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.

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