Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy and Horrible

There are few things aside from drinking, impromptu expensive shopping sprees and one night stands that can make you feel really good and really bad at the same time. Today unfortunately I'm not going to write about something so light hearted. I'm going to touch on a sensitive topic and be serious, but I'll get back to your regularly expected cheerful posting next time. Promise. Plus, I'll even drop a funny unrelated confession at the end of this so you'll know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Getting down to business. On Saturday, I spent the afternoon with the Grandmother of mine that I've always been closest. She just had some serious surgery and this was my first opportunity to check in, spend some quality time and generally speaking catch up. We had a perfect afternoon drinking iced tea and telling stories. She's doing so much better and I'm so relieved.  I had a good hour drive back to Annapolis, but I was in such a good mood and it was just starting to get dark that I thought there was no reason why I don't pay a surprise visit to my other Grandmother. She is in assisted living about 5 minutes away and I knew it would brighten her day. It was pretty rainy and dreary out when I got in my car and I almost decided to skip it but something told me not to shrug my visit off.

I cruised through the Mc Donald's drive-thru for a chocolate shake because she's always loved her sweet treats. So pleased with myself I was as I skipped through the rain into her building. I entered the common area to see melancholy ladies in wheel chairs and on couches with vacant stairs on their faces, and old timey music softly playing on the sound system. I gulped and remembered why I don't come often. I scanned the sea of white hair and spotted the Grandmother that belonged to me. Weaving through the  crowd, ladies questioningly eyed me. "Hi Grandma," I said as cheerfully as possible!  She slowly raised her head and her bored expression absolutely lit up. I presented her with her shake and she was absolutely overwhelmed. As quickly as her face cheered, it melted into dismay. Emotional over my visit she put her hand to her heart and guilt seared through mine. So many times I pass by without going in thinking she won't remember anyway. Or it's too depressing. On one occasion dropping her off, I was pulled aside by a 90-something who asked me to help her "escape by nightfall." This night I took my Grandmother's arthritis curled hand and wished my own were warmer to help sooth her curved fingers.

Confusion set in that I wont elaborate on, but to distract her I asked her if she would like me to paint her finger nails. Her face quickly brightened again and I wheeled her to the kitchen area. We passed a lady weeping about her father on a bench, and another talking to herself or possibly her reflection in a window. I asked Grandma if she remembered when I used to paint her nails all the time. One summer about 9 years ago shortly after my Grandfather died, she spent a lot of time at our house and I often painted her nails to pass the time. I just hate myself for not spending more hours talking and having her tell me stories while she could like I do with my other Grandmother. Instead, I was too involved counting the hours until my Mom would get home so I could dart off to my asshole boyfriend of the time. But this night, she sat sipping her shake while I slowly painted her nails with precision as the others watched in envy.  One lady swooped (slowly) in and helped herself to the shake while watching the manicure. It was OK because my Grandmother had had her fill anyway, and the lady grunted and slurped and said, "Hmm. Yeah, good," so I saw no harm in it if it would make her happy too. (I did verify with the nurses there were no dietary restrictions being violated.) Another lady randomly took off her shirt exposing...well, you know. I was told sundown was a tough time of day and that residents often get confused and depressed.

Grandma said I looked pretty and I told her I'd recently been to a wedding in Maine. She said she had been to Maine and was I going to get married? I told her yes maybe but he would have to ask me first, and she found this to be very amusing and hid her head in her arm and laughed. I laughed too and all too soon I was finished and had run out of words to say.

My point is that it was so bittersweet. I curse myself for not paying more visits. My Mom told me on Monday how surprised and happy my Grandmother told her she was that I had stopped in. As uncomfortable as it is to go, and as easy as it is to just pass by, it's beyond selfish to do so. My Grandmother ran a household raising four children, and 7 grandchildren and my thanks is to brush her off because it's awkward?

If you're still reading, I beg you to visit your Grandparents while you still can, no matter how depressing it may be. At the end of the day, we go on to our beaches and bars and festivals and friends and they've done all that. They're staying where we've put them and are left with the help to entertain them. I in no way mean to preach or tell others they are bad for not visiting or be self-riotous in any way,  I just realized I thankfully have a chance to do better. I can't make up for what I haven't done, but I realized how much a little gesture makes a big impact.

As suspected, my tear stained face no longer has humor left to write, but I consciously wrote my confession ahead of time, so go ahead and have a laugh (hopefully) at my expense!

Confession Time!!!!

Is it just me, or is that Miley Cyrus, “Party in the USA” song, like really catchy? I made it a point last Christmas after she butchered Mariah Carrey’s “All I Want for Christmas” to go out of my way to dislike her, but then I got into Twitter, and then Miley filmed a movie in Savannah, Georgia, and I accidentally may have popped over to take a quick look at her tweets once or twice, (or maybe the whole time she was there) and then I decided, perhaps she’s not so bad after all, but I’m not going to go buying any cd’s or watching Hannah Montana or anything, but instead I’ll just not express extreme displeasure every time I hear her name anymore, and then this song kept playing on the radio, and I didn’t know who it was, but I knew that once I had felt nervous, but then that Jay Z song came on and I put my hands up and the butterflies flew away, and that was before I knew it was her, so when I found out finally, it was too late to turn back and stop liking it. Are you nodding your head like yeah?


Eva Gallant said...

Jules, your post was very meaningful to me. I have an older brother who is disabled and in a nursing home. It is 90 minutes away from my house (when I'm home in Maine), but I need to visit him more, and call him more, and your post reminded me of that. Thank you.

Passion Fruit said...

I am fortunate enough to have both of my grandmothers and grandfathersa around but every time I see them I can also see them getting older by the day. I try my best to see them often but one pair of them lives 5 hours away so them I see only a couple of times a year..

About your confession. I have one to make, too. I heard the Paris Hilton's Stars Are Blind on the radio all the time and even 'tho it was a simple song I really started to like it. So when I found out it was Paris' song it was already too late. -.-

Dutch donut girl said...

I keep putting off going to see my grandmother because I'm so 'busy'. But yet I find the time to blog, watch TV, read a book etc. She taught me so much about life and love. So you are absolutely right! I should visit her more often. Thank you for this post!

La Belle Mere UK said...

Wow, you're so right. I went to see a friend in the town I grew up in recently and could have gone to see my Grandad who is also in a home. I didn't. I drove past because I wanted to get home.

I am deffo going to make plans to see him now, very soon.

LBM xxx

Sally-Sal said...

I didn't get a chance to know my grandparents, but one of my first jobs was in a nursing home.

When I told my mom I planned to go into the medical field, she told me that I needed to 'start at the bottom'.

While my friends had fun summer jobs in convenience stores, fast food, and the like, I was taking care of people's grandparents.

At first, it was the saddest thing I'd ever experienced.
As the summer progressed, I became attached to many of the residents. And when someone would call in for their shift, they'd always call me. Because I'd say yes. The way I looked at it, if I still had my grandparents, I'd want someone like me to look after them.

You're spot on about that Miley Cyrus song. It's catchy as fuck :)

buffalodick said...

I was brought up to respect my elders. I worked at a rest home while in high school and college. They really loved that I would listen to their stories- who cannot live a lifetime and not have a few.. You have a soul, and it is a good one..never ever stop doing what you do, or feeling the way you do. This is the stuff that defines you, and makes your worth. Very excellent writing, my dear..

jules said...

Thank you all for reading me! And Buffalodick, thank you so much for your kind words! Lets all go hug our elders now if we can!

Stephanie Faris said...

Yes, Miley's song is very catchy. She's making an attempt to "grow up" and appeal to a new audience...so the song was very carefully orchestrated to appeal to those of us who would normally not like her music. And we still can't help but feel guilty for liking it!

One thing I've learned in life is that just taking time to really get to know our elders can teach us SO much. The things they tell us will be things we'll remember for a lifetime. It's especially important with our own family members...I know I regret not having more conversations with my grandparents while they were still alive. Now my only hope for finding anything out about my lineage is through my mom and dad.

Kristin said...

My Mom, little dude and I recently took my grandmother on a little vacay and I'm so glad that we did. Four generations in the mountains. It was lovely!

rebecca said...

I'm sure this post resonates with so many readers. Both my parents are long gone and after they were gone I always asked myself why didn't I spend more time with them? I spent time with them, don't misunderstand, but not enough. "Life" got in the way and I thought then that how I used my time justified my lack of spending more quality time with them. How foolish of me to have thought so. Nothing is ever more important than spending time with those that have reached the end of their lives and have given so much to you. Unfortunately, I did not learn this lesson until it was too late. So your post really touched me. It really, really did.

And, P.S., re. Miley Cyrus, the other day on the radio I heard "The Climb" and when I heard it was her that sang it, if I hadn't been sitting down I would've fallen on the floor. I'm always spouting how much that kid aggravates me and here I am liking one of her songs! Karma is a friggin' bitch, that's all I have to say.

Angie Muresan said...

Oh, I love how real you are and how you own up to your feelings. I have worked as a healthcare provider with the elderly for lots of years, and let me just tell you that she will not forget your visit for a long time.

Belle said...

Wow! You made me simultaneously teary-eyed and then laugh pretty hard. A) My 'Mimi' passed away almost two years ago... and I kind of dragged myself to visit her a lot. I wish I hadn't considered it 'dragging,' but I always left happier than I had walked in, just because I had made her day. But don't beat yourself up over driving past sometimes... it's difficult and awkward, as sad as that is. And plus, if you're going to change that, and not drive past without going in so much, then there's no sense in feeling guilt about what you used to be. B) My sister LOVES Party in the U.S.A. far more than any adult I know. :)