For those of you long-timers out there, you know that Crazy Grandma is aptly named. If there are any newbies, let me just catch you up….my Grandma is a little Crazy…..there you go. I think as younger people – hey I am still young! – we try to justify what we are seeing happening to our parents and grandparents. After watching her slowly deteriorate over the past decade…and luckily it has been fairly slow… I have come to the observation that what is happening to her is a result of being alone to turn your thoughts around and around and around.
Over a year ago I received a call that she was in the hospital and needed a ride home. I could see her room at the end of the hall I was walking down and she was sitting in the hospital chair. I figured she was just watching tv, but when I got into the room I realized she wasn’t. She was just sitting there…..quietly staring straight ahead. Which for my grandmother is literally amazing. Until this point I was convinced she must talk to herself nonstop all day. The woman can literally go on for hours. Granted you are hearing the same 7 things, but gosh darn it she will tell it to you like she didn’t already say it four sentences ago.
I classify her as the epitome of an “old biddy”. She would talk about her and her friend Eileen and all the adventures they would go on, etc. Anyway, when I realized she was sitting there just staring into space it occurred to me that she was just turning the things she’s heard, the things she’s done, the things she thinks she heard and did, over and over all the time. You could tell this was the case because her stories would be filled with fibs.
She once told me my cousin was going to drop out of grad school to have a baby. It sort of became an inside joke between my cousins and I. That we would always verify a story to make sure we weren’t falling into her traps. She would tell me how brilliant my one boy cousin was (who was in college at the time) and how average my other boy cousin was. ‘Well you know Ken isn’t really all that smart!’. Um Grandma Ken is an electrical engineer and works on lasers. ‘Yeah well he just wasn’t the smart one of the family’. Hmmmm. The collection of Grandma’s made up stories has almost become more precious to us all than the real stories she tells.
Don’t get me wrong it isn’t all fun and games. She has a cutting edge to her words as well. And when you hear her cut down each and every person in the family, you just know that she has to say things about you too. Luckily she has the filter to wait until you aren’t around….well not always.
Once Bret came with me to drop Christmas presents off at my Grandpa’s nursing home, she later told me that everyone was asking which one was her granddaughter “And I told them she is the heavy-set one”……wow you couldn’t have said the brunette?
So yeah. No one was immune all the time, but I had it easy to say the least. The day I left to visit Oak, I received a call from the hospital that she again needed a ride home. Problem was, I was in Minnesota and my Dad just so happened to be on vacation in Montana. By some stroke of luck Big Butter happened to be in town on business and was able to go get her. But to say that it panicked the entire family would be an understatement. My Uncle and Aunt, who both live in different states, realized that we all couldn’t live in denial much longer about her condition.
I think the story about the hospital situation is that she heard a pop in her shoulder while getting into bed and drove herself to the E.R. But she couldn’t remember this information the next day when Big Butter came to get her. They gave her some sort of pain meds that she responded terribly to. She was saying how she had come to bring flowers to a friend in the hospital and then later that a nice nurse came in at night and laid in bed with her and rubbed her back so she could sleep….yeah you can see how that might not be the greatest story to tell.
They realized she was whacked out and gave her some other meds to draw out the first medication or something…anyway it wasn’t until we received her medical records several days later that we found out some of the real pieces of the story. But even after you told her what happened, 10 minutes later she would say, ‘well do we even know what happened? because I have no idea’. She is like the main character from Momento, unable to maintain her short-term memories.
My Aunts and Uncle decided that she should come down to New Mexico and look at assisted living facilities. My dad and I agreed that this would be a good thing. There are 4 families down there who could be less than 10 minutes away from her, whereas here my dad and I are both about an hour away.
My grandma went back and forth about the idea. She would sit and tell me ‘you know I am moving to N.M right?’ And then she would babble on about it and then say ‘well I haven’t actually decided I might want to stay here and live on my own, or I had always planned to go to the retirement home here’. She was attached to the home my grandpa was at. She would tell us fibs about how they offered her a job there…oh because she was a nurse…yeah…so she worked as a candy-striper at the hospital when she was in high school (basically they changed the linens and cleaned the rooms). I think she wanted to go to nursing school, but she married my grandpa the weekend after she graduated high school and then had my dad a year later. So she was never a nurse, but tells people that she was…..again dangerous. Don’t trust any 75-year-old “nurses” okay?
I don’t think they ever offered her a job there. I am sure they encouraged her to come volunteer and that probably transformed into getting a job offer for her. Anyway she would talk about moving to N.M but then come back to the retirement home here.
I decided to back away from the situation and let my dad and his siblings figure everything out. My uncle took my grandma down to N.M and showed her several places. She seemed reluctant to sign, but about a week later, I received a text that they would be moving her down.
I had a break down on the car ride up to her house. I felt like maybe I should have stood up for her, if she really wanted to be at this certain home she should be able to. Did I fail her? Did they force her into something? Or was she just nervous and not ready for a change? I calmed myself down by the time I arrived and within the first 30 minutes I realized this really was going to be just fine. Although I still feel a little guilty like we didn’t respect her wishes, I think she will like being close to my uncle and his kids.
She is a baby fanatic and two of my cousins are expecting down there, so there will be a steady stream of fresh children to smother with affection. It is an easy flight from here and we all try to get together a couple of times a year. I think this will be better in the long run and the great thing is that she is on a month-to-month basis there, so if in 6 months she wants to come back and instead go to the facility here, then she can. I guess I just realized that sometimes you have to give in.
Gasp! don’t go spreading this around, but basically I don’t always know what is best. Also getting old is fucking scary and sad dudes. All in favor of never getting old and crazy?