Taking care of Grandpa is just about the hardest thing our family has ever had to do.
It has s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d my husband (in compassionate ways).
It has s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d my kids (in unselfish ways).
And it has s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d me (in patient ways) because I have to keep peace between all the adjoining nations (various family members and Grandpa).
Yes, taking care of Grandpa is not only a joy, but a sacred duty.
But duty is such an old-fashioned word, isn’t it? Well, maybe I should define it so we (I ) , can grasp its full meaning once again.
Duty: That which a person owes to another; that which a person is bound, by any natural, moral or legal obligation, to pay, do or perform… obedience, respect and kindness to parents are duties of children.~Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Taking care of Grandpa involves a lot more stamina than is apparent to the casual observer (friends, church members, and extended family).
Being responsible for Grandpa is all-consuming, and if you ever wonder why I am slow in returning emails or telephone calls, let me show you what our highly structured days look like:
8:30 – Make Grandpa’s breakfast.
9:00 – Wake Grandpa up and transfer to a standing position, change diaper, and dress.
9:30 – Walk Grandpa to breakfast, transfer to wheelchair.
10:00 – Clean room, change soaked sheets, do laundry.
10: 30 – Push Grandpa to the bathroom for morning B.M., transfer to bed for his power nap.
11:30 – Get Grandpa up from nap, transfer to wheelchair.
2:00 – Make Grandpa’s lunch.
2:30 – Change Grandpa’s diaper, walk Grandpa to lunch, transfer to wheelchair.
3:00 – Wheel Grandpa back to his room for a nap, transfer to bed.
4:00 – Get Grandpa up from nap, transfer to wheelchair.
6:00 – Make Grandpa’s dinner.
7:00 – Change Grandpa’s diaper, change him into his pajamas, work him out on his exercise equipment.
7:15 – Eat dinner with Grandpa.
8:30 – Grandpa brushes his teeth (something he can do all by himself).
9:00 – Change Grandpa into his nighttime diaper (four pads added), transfer him to bed, rub his legs with lotion, adjust his pillows, blankets, and books on bedside table.
10:30 – Close bedroom door (Grandpa reads in bed).
The last couple of days, though, Grandpa has complained about us not saying good night at 10:30 p.m. when we close his bedroom door. Granted, I am the one, who months ago, asked him if he wanted his door open when we put him to bed. He reads for an hour and a half and I thought it would make him not feel so isolated. So we leave his door open every night until he yells for us to close it.
Suddenly, though, Grandpa has been demanding that whoever shuts his door at 10:30 p.m. must say “Good night, Grandpa!”
I had a lengthy discussion with him tonight about the fact that we are through at 9:30 p.m., and in case he hadn’t noticed, we’re not exactly spring chickens ourselves. Robert and I are pretty tuckered out at 9:30 p.m. and we don’t relish any more social interaction with said senior citizen! Once we put Grandpa to bed, we’d like to be done for the night! But the last two days, Grandpa insists that we say goodnight at 10:30 p.m. when we close his door.
Last week, after Robert had just settled into his chair to read the newspaper, Grandpa yelled at him to come and say goodnight.
Really Grandpa? Really???
I explained to him tonight that we put in 12 1/2 hours of caregiving daily (for the last three years), and that we are done at 9:30 p.m!
“Well. I work all day, too,” he said.
True, Grandpa is low maintenance in-between all his high maintenance needs. He occupies himself by writing children’s books on his computer—books I still have to edit (and, trust me they’re not easy to edit either). So not only do we take care of Grandpa’s physical needs, but we are responsible for his creative needs, as well. To tell you the truth, though, I’d rather take care of someone whose mind is in fine working order any day.
Still, the day Grandpa starts changing my diaper, and waiting on me hand and foot, I’ll know that he has done his duty…
But oh, yeah, he did that when I was little, and he did it for my four siblings, too, didn’t he?
So, my family will do our best to take care of Grandpa, because it is our sacred duty.
When I closed Grandpa’s door at 10:30 p.m. tonight, I said, “Good night, Grandpa!”
So much for my lofty speeches! So much for my indignation at being asked to care for his emotional needs after he’s all tucked in (something I try to do every night, anyway, when I fluff his pillows).
In the meantime, in-between time, ain’t we got fun?
You bet. God’s grace covers it all!