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This is Personal

February 24, 2013

Reflections

Just over a month ago, my Dad called me, emotionally grieved, and suggested that if I wanted to see my grandmother, I might ought come down as soon as I can.

This set me into frenzied motion.  I didn’t know how I would be able to make it down there, as my husband was about to leave for his “seven-on” and would be taking our only trustworthy vehicle with him.  At first, I looked into car rentals, but as I didn’t know how long I would be out of town, and barely had enough to cover a small sedan for a few days (we’d be packed like sardines, my boys and I),  I prayed for another option.

My husband suggested that I ask if I could borrow someone’s van.  Well, the lady that he had suggested had recently sold the car he was thinking of…and besides, we may suggest to our children that sharing is caring, but I know of very few adults who actually still practice that concept.  We are pretty bad about sharing, us grown-ups!

But I fought my sensibilities and made a post on facebook about my needs and the situation.  I even left a disclaimer about my near-perfect driving record, in hopes that someone would see that and instantly believe they could trust me far enough to throw me across the state in their car!

After saying a brief, pitiful prayer, I went back to facebook (still feeling manic over the phone call) and low and behold, I received a text from a friend who saw my post on facebook.  She wanted to offer me a vehicle.  I was overjoyed, but how do you thank someone for such a grand gesture.  I was and am still so very humbled by her gracious mercy toward our family’s situation, and I still am just as grateful for her obedience to the Lord, and marvel in delight and offer praises to our Father on her behalf.

She said she knew right away that she was to let me use her vehicle, for as long as I needed it.

I ended up being needed down there for three weeks!  The first two and a half weeks (that I was down), we worked as a team, around the clock, caring for our matriarch and the sons and daughter-in-laws were making arrangements to move my Nana to a nursing home, as she was doing better and better every day. (PRAISE THE LORD! PRAYER WORKS!)  The last half-week, we were getting her adjusted to her new home…and then I had to head back.

That was the hardest part.  Harder than asking to borrow a car, harder than receiving the initial phone call.  I live 5 1/2 hours away from my Nana.  As a child, she would usher me around different places in town, introducing me to all of her friends.  I felt like a prize she had won!  She made me feel like a princess, as I was her first grandchild, the first girl, after having three sons, and she would adorn me with ruffles and bows, shiny patten leather shoes, and ribbons and lace, so pink and fluffy.  But there was more to this growing bond and immeasurable love, than meets the eye.

I was born a year after her middle son took his own life.  So to say I was a band aid, is not a stretch at all.  I was a salve to her and Papaw’s gaping wound.  New life breathed through their house that had been engulfed in such deep sorrows, I was like the sun rising again, after months of darkness.  I was her “precious angel”…pretty hard to live up to, and in hindsight, a definite set-up for failure, hardy har har!

With my Nana falling so ill and being so close to the Jordan when I arrived, I wanted nothing more than to be with her and take care of her every way I could.  I was so impressed with my family’s system and in-depth caring and so happy that my Nana was being cared for so lovingly, 24/7.  But I’m no fool.  I knew our special care could not last forever.  We all had our own lives that had been put on the back-burner, and as she continued to get better, we knew that our supreme care would have to be relinquished to a nursing facility.

For days, my dad drove around the area, checking out different facilities and options.  He found a home near my sister, that didn’t smell like the others and seemed much better suited for our queen.  But we all knew she wouldn’t be happy.  This was such a painful, but sadly, necessary decision that had to be made.

Her first few days there, things seemed great.  She was not complaining, was more engaging than she had been, and was eagerly participating in the home’s activities.  But then she fell and hit her head and seemed to literally knock herself out of a fog of apparent delirium, that she had been in the whole time I was down.  She began voicing her realizations, “Can you believe THEY put me into a NURSING HOME?”  Oh boy…and I was just about to leave.  I stayed two more days, because I didn’t want to leave her so upset and unhappy.  But when I went to say our goodbyes, she was still very unhappy and wanted to move back to her apartment.

Sadly, that is not an option.  And in my heart of hearts, my desire to move down there and move her in with us, was just as much a fantasy, no matter how ideal it seemed.  So I left the area, heavy-hearted, albeit grateful that I was able to spend so much time with her, something I’ve longed to do for a while now.

The drive home was peaceful.  It was filled with long silences (hardly believable with my four boys) where I would reflect on the three weeks and then on the 36 years I’d lived knowing my Nana.  From time to time, the boys would ask family-related questions and I was glad to oblige.  Sometimes, being with my boys is so dadgum delicious that I find them to be my own salve and bandaids.  I love their hearts, they make me proud.

It’s been two weeks since I was with my family.  Thanks to technology, I don’t feel a world away, but I do feel like I’m on an island again.  She has fallen 3 times since she’s been at the nursing home  (for 2 weeks).  She only had one ALMOST fall during the 3 weeks she was with us.  We are all trying to overcome our emotions concerning the lesser care she is now receiving, but it’s overwhelming.  We LOVE this woman.  This woman LOVED us to bits and pieces.  Such a dear woman deserves the best care one can give.

As one who has worked in nursing home ministries on and off throughout my life, I can tell you, our elders deserve so much more…so much better.  But there is no clear solution available.  Due to the continual rises in the cost of living, the children of the aging generation still have to work, often times putting off retirement in order to keep ahead, or try to get there.  They recognize the staggering, breathtaking expenses involved in sub-par care and continue to work in order to be able to afford to live once they are unable to work any longer.

Although the nursing home my grandmother is in IS the nicest one I’ve ever seen or smelled, for that matter, those are all surface details.  And the staff seemed friendly, but not attentive enough for my liking…or the liking of any of our family.  When we cared for Nana, there was always someone with her.  This scenario is impossible in the nursing home setting, due to costs, staffing for such a purpose is absolutely impossible.

Nana was a wise and frugal woman and saved properly and is able to receive very good care.  I am very grateful for that.  But I think about where I am now in my life and at this point, I don’t see quite the same scenario playing out for me.  I pray my boys are merciful and marry sweet, sweet girls who will grow to love me enough to not throw me to the wolves, when my time comes.  Nana’s definitely not with the wolves, but it kind of feels like it.

What happened before nursing homes?  We cared for our own.  Society has made that downright impossible.  The demands of the day do not allow for us to have that type of time.  When we lived our lives on the farm, providing for our families from our own work on the land, even while such work was obviously quite more grueling than pencil pushing, it still provided the family the ability to care for their own, in-home.  Doctors would make house calls, very similar to the hospice system of today.

Nana had hospice, but she opted out, the day after I left, and requested rehabilitation instead.  (She had to opt out of hospice in order to give rehab a try).  So the extra care that we had found to provide for Nana is gone too, for the time being.  If you ask me, she kind of shot herself in the foot on that one, because at least we KNEW the hospice gals cared.

So now, the boys and I are cleaning shop and packing slowly in hope and with faith that God will guide us to live closer to Nana and company.  I have had so many prayers answered.  I’ve seen so many things fall into place perfectly, in the past, so I know that God is already working on something for us.  I can feel it.

Thank you, Father, for allowing us to find a way down to be with Nana.  Thank you for all the precious time that I was able to be with her, at her side and love on her.  I can never give her enough love for the love she raised me in.  Thank you for giving me such an awesome grandmother!  I ask that you bless my friend continually for her obedience and the blessing she bestowed upon us.  I pray that her children and mine store that great lesson in their hearts and will be so willing to obey you too, when the time arises in their lives.  I pray that my Nana would find much favor in the nurses’ hearts and that she would receive the supreme care she deserves and I pray the same for every patient in nursing homes across the world.  I pray for my parents as they continue traveling back and forth, that you would be their strength and guide and keep them protected on the road.  I pray for them and my aunt and uncle as they deal with the business end, and I thank you for my sister’s heart to serve and for her medical knowledge that made this whole process so much smoother for all involved.  I pray that you would guide her to utilize such skills, professionally again in her future.  Lord I am so grateful to come from such a loving, amiable family and ask that you would continue to shower your grace, mercy, strength, peace and comfort upon us all.

I pray this in your most Precious Holy Name, Jesus Christ, Amen

Until Next Time,

Vaya con Dios

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2 Comments
  1. Beautifully expressed and oh! so true. The olden days were kinder to our elders as members of iintergenerational families living under one roof, before we became such a mobile society.

    That said, assuming your Nana still had a “good head on her shoulders” when she opted for rehab, it sounds like she’s not settling and plans on getting better. My independent mother-in-law, who was in good shape for her age when she fell and broke her hip at 97, didn’t settle (even though statistically old people die soon after breaking a hip). With a specially selected surgeon, and no doubt God on her side, her hip was pinned, she worked hard in rehab, and 4 months later was walking with a cane–out to lunch, dinner, to movies and to homes of friends and family. She’s now 99, less energetic, but still going out, still living alone in her home–with help only from a person who comes to clean every other week.

    With hopes that your grandmother’s illness isn’t immediately life-threatening, that she benefits from rehab (which raises elderly people’s spirits considerably), and that you and she can enjoy being with each other again~Susan (http://helpparentsagewell.com)

  2. What terrific words of encouragement, Susan! Thank you for sharing your experience with your fire-cracker mother-in-law with me! She sounds like a real go-getter. My grandmother pines for her husband and longs to join him, on one hand, but on the other, her vitals are enviable, by today’s standards, as is her rate of healing, in my opinion. So hopefully, she will gain her strength and will in rehab and desire to live out loud while she’s granted such a gift.

    Thank you for stopping by.

    Stacie

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