Sunday, April 19, 2009

I took a two day break away from my laptop, to spend time with my family in Ohio. I saw my mother and her gigantic apartment right outside of Cleveland. I spent some time with my aunt, and I talked sports with my 3 uncles. One of my uncles was even nice enough to take me by LeBron James house (he lives 1 minute away from my grandparents). But the MOST difficult and fulfilling part of the trip was my trip to the retirement community to see my grandparents.

This retirement community my grandparents have been in since the first week of April, is very similar to a bed and breakfast. You get three meals a day, they give you new sheets, they clean your room, and everyone is very very friendly. But the reality there is that everyone is easily over 75, and they have come there to die. My grandfather is battling high blood pressure, diabetes and prostate cancer, and it has clearly taken its toll. He moves slowly, the medications he takes make him sleepy all the time, and he was to wear Depends. Still, he is the perfect gentleman to my grandmother, and he made it a point to talk to EVERYONE he came in contact with in the cafeteria, which just amazed me. Despite his afflictions, I could tell he was at peace for a man who had been born in 1925.

My 76 year old grandmother is in the early stages of dementia/Alzheimer's, and although my mother hinted at it before I got there, I just was not prepared for what I saw. She asked the same questions repeatedly, she seemed to talk incoherently for 15-20 minute intervals, and she wasn't as meticulous about her appearance as she had been the last time I saw her couple years back. I could tell she has not adjusted to the idea of living here, and she wasn't as comfortable as my grandfather.

But the lasting image I will take from the visit is my grandparents sitting at the dinner table, drinking coffee and eating ice cream, after everyone else had gotten up. They didn't look two people in the twilight of their life, they just looked like a "regular" couple enjoying each other's company. What else could you ask for?

This past weekend also had caused me to re-open discussions with my parents about what kind of arrangements they want as they get older.

1 comment:

Sab D said...

My grandmother is suffereing from the same thing - it's hard to cope with because age looks like the lady who brought you joy as a child, but you're wrestling with that nostalgia & the harsh reality that's looping the conversation with you now - tough times indeed