We’re back. 23 hours of driving (with a hotel stay in the middle of it). Thank goodness for Terry’s Bonus Things with Holiday Inn, from business trips. They put lots of pillows on the beds. Lots of them. 4 big ones, on each bed. State Welcome Center coffee has to be the worst ever. It may be free, but it’s better to stop at a Waffle House and pay for it.
I am missing my grandmother. It was hard to go to Texas and not work on a puzzle with her, or trade Jello salad recipes, or wander around the ranch looking for a barrel cactus just the right size to go in a pot. I think I will go to Lowe’s and buy one.
I saw her from a distance, in her casket, the same style Granddad had- a nice oak one. I asked Dad if Granddad had purchased them ahead of time, and gotten 2 so he could get a bulk discount. It would have been like him to do that. Dad laughed loudly and probably inappropriately for the setting (the funeral home, during visitation), but I joke when I don’t know what else to do. Grandmother looked lovely, like she was asleep, except she was wearing pearls and she would never have done that in her sleep. I didn’t get up close because I didn’t want to really see her like that. I prefer to remember her with her wispy hair blown every which way by the West Texas wind, while looking for a cactus, just the right size to go in a pot. I’d rather remember her methodical way of putting together a 5000 piece puzzle of the Sistine Chapel, all like colored pieces in paper plates, with the border done first.
It comes and goes, the missing her. I didn’t spend a lot of time with my grandparents when growing up, we always lived so far away. Once I was an adult, I was able to fly out there, to the windy High Plains where everyone complains of the drought (that has always been there) and the wind (that has always been there) and the fierce heat of Summer of cold of Winter. I love it. I love the cold nights and hot days and dust storms and endless horizons and tumbleweeds like something out of a Roadrunner cartoon. But without my grandparents there, without someone to complain about the weather and soothe it all with Jello Salad and a homemade quilt, it’s not the same.
It’s all…flat, like a drawing. There’s no noise, no laughter about a failed cake or faces about a cracked plate or wrinkled nose and decisions to buy a frozen pizza instead of making a complicated meal.
We visited the canyon. The Palo Dura canyon is right there and is always, always visited when going to see the grandparents. Granddad’s ranch was right there on the rim of the canyon and the place is familiar, comfortable, and breathtakingly beautiful. This time it was also engulfed in a dust storm, like something out of a movie. Fierce winds, and a constant gritty brown cloud obscuring vision and filling your head with a fine brown dust. Pictures? of course, but they’re not where I can get to them at the moment. Tumbleweeds bounced across the road, and I saw a single horse, standing with his head down, eyes closed, and a very irritated cast to his ears, mane and tail whipping in the wind.
We visited with cousins and their spouses, met school classmates of Dad’s who’d come to pay their respects, drank coffee and admired the quilts Grandmother had made, that were all displayed in the Fellowship Hall of the church, during the reception after her funeral.
As much as I love the place, without my grandparents to see, it just isn’t the same and I don’t know if I’ll ever return. I doubt I’ll ever eat another FatBoy’s Brisket sandwich, or a piece of fried catfish at Feldman’s Fieldhouse, or count the colorful layers within the canyon walls. It’s not the same without one of my grandparents telling me how they’d cut a cedar from a side canyon for a Christmas tree, or put out corn for the ring-necked doves and prairie hens, or Grandmother concocting yet another version of jello salad. She loved that stuff, I think it was for the colors it came in, because she loved bright colors.
This morning, Terry told me to allow myself to grieve. That’s a tough one. Strong emotions are scary, and I am unaccustomed to allowing them to run rampant, even in private when there’s no one to see it. I’ll try.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Coping mechanisms, Dealing with a grandparent, Home and hearth, solving personal problems
I am recovering from the trip. Grandmother is doing well. I think calling it Hospice Care is kind of alarmist, and the reason I got hand-flappy about it. It needs another name, like Palliative Care. Even though that is exactly what Hospice Care is, it would have a different implication. Hospice calls to mind terminal diseases as in “he’s got no more that 6 weeks, maybe less”. Palliative would, in my mind, mean “yes, she’s going to die but we don’t know when so we’re just keeping her comfortable”. But I’m not the one who makes these things up. The good news is that she’s doing ok. For someone who’s 100, she’s doing pretty well, actually.
The trip itself was good. Terry generously gave up a weeks vacation to accompany me and the time in the car with him was nice. There is something about riding in a car for long distances with someone. It is a gauge that should be used to determine a potential spouse, in my opinion. I’ve told the boys this. “Ask yourself, can you see spending 10 days in a car with this person. If the answer is no, then you need to think hard about it.” I enjoy spending time in the car with Terry. We talk about everything, and sometimes nothing. We don’t have that sort of time during the normal days, to talk like that. Stuff like politics and religion and so on.
We don’t see absolutely eye-to-eye on everything, but that is ok. As long as we recognize the differences in personality and upbringing and experience form the differences of opinion, we’re doing ok. As long as each one of us can express an opinion and not put the other one down for the difference, it’s ok and the relationship is fine. Taking a road trip is an excellent time to hash out these differences and…and…try to talk the other one into a Labradoodle puppy in a few years.
Which totally happened. The attempt, that is. Whether or not it results in a Labradoodle remains to be seen, but experience tells me that if I bat my eyelashes and have a nice mint julep waiting at the end of several hot days, I’d probably be able to talk him into it.
Not that I try to manipulate or anything.
But now, I am kind of tired, and so is Terry. I am happy about being home, with my own bed and own home smells and own cooking (sort of). The flower beds are a terrific mess of weeds, but the grass isn’t too tall.
Filed under: *whinge*, family, food, Good grief, Grandparents | Tags: Dealing with a grandparent, responsible adult, What.
I do not like Amarillo, Texas.
And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
I do like my grandmother, and the only reason she’s in Amarillo is because she’s from Canyon and Amarillo was the closest place with the kind of assisted living she needs.
I do like chicken fried steak and cream gravy and mashed potatoes, and there’s a place in Amarillo that serves a most excellent version of those things.
But other than that, I could go several years without smelling a stockyard when I first walk out of a hotel room, and not miss it.
It wouldn’t bother me a bit if I never walked into a Walmart and saw 3 young men strung out on some kind of drug, harrassing 2 other young men who were apparently not on drugs.
I would not be upset if I never saw another size 20 woman apparently wearing her skinny 12 year old daughter’s spandex camisole.
Ok maybe I am going to say something about it…
It was good to see my grandmother. I am glad I did it.
It is also good to be home, and I am going to be very happy to sleep in my own bed tonight.
Without the whiff of stockyard or the roar of every single diesel tractor-trailer in the country blowing past my little bitty car.
The chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and cream gravy were delicious. Terry had the not-mythical chicken fried corn on the cob. Yes.
Filed under: Dewicate feewings, family, Good grief, Grandparents, He'p meh He'p meh Oh Lawzy He'p meh, Not another Change!, Sometimes she thinks too much | Tags: Coping mechanisms, Dealing with a grandparent, Home and hearth, solving personal problems
all packed, with the exception of that one last bag, you know the one…that one bag that has the bits and pieces of stuff that are still being used. Reading glasses, Kindle, toothbrush.
Yes, I use a Kindle. If it’s a Great Book that I want to savor, I’ll buy a real copy. If it’s one-time fluff that I can download for free, it’s on the Kindle. Plus a Bible and a dictionary. and a couple of cookbooks. I like the Kindle because it lets me use large print, which I need even with the reading glasses. And fluff, which I need in a hotel, particularly on a trip that could be stressful. Like this one.
Terry said “Let’s go get you a new phone.” He and the boys have only been trying for 2 years now to make me replace this 5 year old pink one, and it’s getting fritzy- not ringing reliably, that sort of thing. So. I acquiesced and in a bit we’re going in. I don’t like change very much, unless it’s a small one like switching from pork to beef ramens or eating almonds instead of peanuts. I am sure I will like the new phone. I am also sure if Terry hadn’t pushed, I would still be using the old Nokia phone I had in 1996.
We went to the store today and got provisions for the trip: snacky stuff like trail mix and multigrain Pringles and bottled water. I like stuff that is in neat containers that close back up. Also, sandwich stuff, so we don’t eat hamburgers from McDonalds. We have plans to eat at 3 restaurants: The Main Street Cafe in Clarkesville, Texas, because their smoked brisket is a flamin’ miracle of cookery; Red River Steakhouse in McLean, Texas; and Calico County Restaurant in Amarillo because they have chicken fried corn on the cob.
Mainly I am going to see my grandmother, and talk to the hospice nurse, so I can report back to Dad. I am looking forward to seeing her. Terry is going to post up in the cafe at the home where she’s living, and do work. Isn’t modern technology amazing? I continue to be boggled by it all. He even has satellite thingy on his phone, so we can do GPS whatzit en route. Paper maps, apparently, are Old School and quaint.
#4 is all packed and ready to go, I guess. 3 bags of stuff and the checklist checked…okeedokey there.
The grass is cut, the gardens are being watered, the cat food dispenser device is filled, and the older boys have meals in the freezer. My duty is fulfilled in that regard.
and yet, I am anxious. Of course I am. It’s the trip, that’s one thing. I didn’t have the standard 6 months to ponder it, and plan, and think, and look at the map, and let the idea marinate in my brain until it was ready to slow simmer for several days. So that is a little bit anxiety inducing. But that’s ok, I’ll live. It isn’t as if I had to suddenly drop everything and go on a 6 week hike through the Amazon Basin, right? We are not leaving civilization. We are going to a place where men don’t wear beards or shorts (not even cargo shorts like Terry’s). People still eat, sleep, and…well…they don’t drive VW Beetle convertibles, either. Especially the men.
There is a definite cultural shift once you cross into Texas.
Sigh…ok. Yes. Ready to go.
Filed under: Dewicate feewings, family, Grandparents, Sometimes she thinks too much, spouse | Tags: Coping mechanisms, Dealing with a grandparent, Oversharing, solving personal problems, Spouse
It is amazing how Having Something To DO is so energizing.
One thing I can’t stand is getting all emotional and hand-flappy and running around like my head has fallen off. I do not play the helpless female very well. Women like that irritate me, and I do not want to be irritating to others.
This bothers Terry sometimes. He has said he wishes I could just let it go, let the stuff out and roll with it for a while. Sometimes I wish I could do that,too. But it gives me a hangover. If I have something to DO, something productive that contributes to the solution, I am much happier.
And so it is. We are making this drive (20+ hours) to Amarillo,to see my grandmother. It might be good-bye, it might not. I don’t know. But there is an urgency about it and a tremendous sense of relief that it’s happening NOW, and not July 10. Maybe it’s just reassurance, and that’s ok.
I guess there is a very good reason Terry took the entire week off. We had other plans, but they aren’t the sort that can’t be done some other time, and even if they were, this is more important.
So, I am now happily making lists and plans and getting ready. All the laundry was done yesterday. I have a bit of mending (making shorts out of pants for #4), a bit of cooking(granola bars for snacks), and a bit of yard work (mowing, watering everything). #4 needs to pack for camp today. I will give him his list, clear the dining table so he can put everything on it and I can double check, and turn him loose to do it himself.
We will be dropping #4 off at 6am Sunday morning for him to go to camp for a week, then heading straight out west. Our oldest will be here to see after the dogs and cat.
Last night we were sitting out in Terry’s Cave, making a list and discussing stuff, and #4 came out. He said he wished he could go too, and opined that he would enjoy a trip on back roads. Terry informed him that we would do just that with him, in 3 years when he was old enough to help with the driving. #4 got excited about that, and said he wanted to drive to West Mineral, Kansas and see Big Brutus. I think that would make a fine
inaugeral inaguaral oh heck…first road trip for a 16 year old.
I’ve recovered from my emotional issues…I know I am saying that as if they were some sort of pathological problem, and I know they are not, but they are uncomfortable, and because the family is not used to seeing me dissolving into a soggy mess like that, awkward for them. Last night I apologized to Terry for my weirdness and he rolled his eyes, and said “you don’t have to apologize for that!” then I tried to make excuses for it by blaming hormones, and he rolled his eyes again and said “maybe hormones made your reaction a little stronger than it might have otherwise been, but your emotions are real and you DON’T HAVE TO MAKE EXCUSES FOR THEM!”
Maybe not, but something that uncomfortable, feeling that out of control of something going on inside my brain, that is very difficult. Letting it happen, like letting a horse have it’s head and just RUN…that is…kind of….foreign. 20 years of bipolar disorder has taught me to keep things wrapped up pretty tight, and I have trouble discerning when it’s ok to let it out, even when I know, logically, that it is a reasonable sort of response.
Filed under: family, God Stuff, Grandparents, Memories, Sometimes she thinks too much, spouse, things that make you go hmmmmm | Tags: Christian Values, Coping mechanisms, Dealing with a grandparent, Spouse
Yesterday was rough, y’all. I got a call from my father, who asked me to call Grandmother and talk to her, assess her over the phone. Grandmother’s 100th birthday is in August, and she lives in a (very nice…REALLY REALLY NICE) nursing home in Texas. Lest you get all indignant about her living so far from family, it was her choice. Anyway,a couple of weeks ago, she was moved (not physically, but in her care) from standard care to Hospice.
On one hand, this alarmed me. “HOSPICE!?” I thought. But…but…she’s not *that sick!* And really, she is in pretty good health for a 100 year old. But, according to the care nurses, and they know these things (seriously, I’ve met with them. They know their stuff),she is reaching The End Of Life. She spends a lot of time in the past, reminiscing about her parents and siblings (all whom have passed on), and is getting kind of…groggy, I guess.
I called her yesterday, and she was thrilled, but there was definitely something “off”. She wasn’t completely there, and I had to repeat myself a couple of times. This is very unusual behavior for her. She seemed preoccupied, and that is unusual for her.
So, I decided I was going to fly out to see her in July. I have several obligations to meet before then, but I made plans. And attempted to buy a plane ticket.
Do you believe that God messes with things, so that we will do what REALLY needs to be done? I have always said I believe that, but yesterday, trying to get that plane ticket, it became abundantly clear that He was messing with things to get me to change the plans.
I got online with Expedia, to get a ticket and car rental. Fine, no problem, great flight out of Atlanta, etc, decent price blah blah. Then, my American Express card didn’t work. What? I’d never had trouble with it before. So I tried Terry’s. Same thing. So I called Expedia and went through the process with a real person. Same thing, neither card worked. So Terry called American Express and they were all OhSoSorry! Some Issue! We’ll get on that right away!
So…then Terry comes downstairs with a funny look on his face and says “Let’s drive to Amarillo instead. We can leave Sunday and be back Friday, and it will cost the same as your plane ticket. I think God messed with the AMEX on purpose. and I think you need to see your grandmother sooner than July 10.”
and so it is.
13 years ago, just days after #4 was born, Terry got a funny feeling about his own grandmother, and drove to see her. She passed on 2 weeks later.
Yesterday…was tough for me. I thought a lot about Grandmother. Not just the 100 years old part…she remembers WW1. She grew up with a horses and a buggy for transportation. She has seen the world change in ways that boggle the mind. Antibiotics, air travel, all the way to computers and people on the moon. Her world has changed more drastically than I can imagine. Uncommon for women of her generation, she has a college degree, and never stopped learning something new.
I look around my house and there are bits and pieces of her everywhere. She loved to do needlework- any sort. I have her quilts on my wall, a needlepoint firescreen, several pictures on the wall of my sewing room. I have her old cookbooks, too. A 1950 Betty Crocker, a Gnomes Gnotebook she wrote her favorite recipes in. I inherited her love of sewing and cooking, and her sense of adventure in those things. I am also cautious like she is, and stubborn too. I have this beautiful painted china doll she made when I was 7. It was an experiment in creativity for her, and she said she enjoyed making the one she gave me, but couldn’t see making a whole bunch of them. I get that from her, too. I will make one or two of something, then wonder why do need 100 (of whatever, silk neckties, dyed scarves, homemade soaps), and move on to something else.
Grandmother went deaf at the age of 3, from an illness. She doesn’t remember what music sounds like, or birds singing, or another person’s voice. This served her well in her 71 year marriage to Grandad. He was an irascible old goat (from the age of 5, according to his brother Walter) and frequently went on rants and tirades. She would just turn off her hearing aid and look at him seriously. One of the things that kept me so emotional yesterday was the realization that when she passes on, SHE WILL HEAR MUSIC FOR THE FIRST TIME!
I am so incredibly excited for her! Of course I will miss her, but she has said for the last 5 years or so that she is ready to go, ready to see her siblings and parents again, and tired of being the only one she knows who’s still alive. I get that, and respect it.
I have many very happy memories with her, most of them formed as an adult. We didn’t see our grandparents very much growing up. We always lived far away and only saw them once every 3 or 4 years. My very first memory- Mom says I was 2-1/2 when this happened-was of playing in Grandmother’s rock garden. I had casts on my legs and was unable to walk, so they sat me down in the rock garden with an old Welch’s grape juice can and a couple of kitchen spoons. There was a bird bath filled with small blue ceramic tiles, and I played with them, filling up the juice can and dumping it out, stirring them around, making stacks and knocking them over. I remember it very clearly.
Once Terry and I married, we started traveling to Texas to see them. We took the boys, because I wanted them to know each other. Then as the boys got older, I started flying out there, to stay for a long weekend. She and I would work on a project, cook something, and generally enjoy each other’s company. I kept this up even after she moved out of the house and into assisted living. A couple of years ago she moved into the nursing home where she’s at now. Dad asked me to fly out there and check the place out, to make sure it was nice enough for her. It is. The people who work there are very committed to the care of the residents, and take real time with them.
Now that she’s in Hospice, I need to see her. It might (and maybe even probably) be the last time I see her. Maybe not. It could be that her grogginess and general behavior is a result of a medication change. That is something that needs to be looked into. I hope it won’t be the last time I see her, but I am prepared for it either way.
100 is a long time to live. She has outlived all of her siblings, friends, and 5 doctors. I don’t want her to go, she is a part of my heritage, something that I am attached to, in a way. I have never had a close family member pass on. Grandad died 6 years ago, but I wasn’t attached to him the way I am to Grandmother. When he died, it was more…Something To Do, I was able to be useful and plan the funeral, clean up his house, and that sort of thing. I was there. I don’t know if I will be able to do that for her. I know she would like it if I could.
The idea of letting go is hard. It’s not that I am howling NOOOOO DON”T GOOOOO! because I believe in Heaven and I know that’s where she’ll be, and that isn’t a platitude of someone patting my shoulder and saying “oh she’s in a better place now” in some attempt to comfort me. I KNOW she will be there, when she goes, and she will be with the people who love her, and she won’t be lonely anymore. It’s more…overwhelming…than anything. The idea that someone I know and love is actually on the cusp of this massive transition is incredibly exciting..and overwhelming.
And so I cry…some grief, even though she’s not gone yet, but mostly out of a sense of ..I am not sure what it is. I’ve never felt like this before.