In the Meantime, In-Between Time, Ain’t We Got Fun!

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!


The Granddaddy of All Fights

Grandpa’s gearing up for the “grandaddy of all fights.” A gust of wind took down a big branch from the tree across the driveway outside his bedroom window. He’s been obsessing about it because he can see it straddling the wooden picket fence like a teeter totter. Robert told him not to worry about it, but Grandpa has plans for that wood, and they’re crazy plans that have to do with the book he’s writing. Ugh! Reality versus fiction, and the workings of Grandpa’s mind.The line between the two are blurred sometimes, but trust me, he’s all there! Claire told Grandpa to talk to Bob about it in the morning. I’m telling you, Grandpa’s about ready to strike again! Look out.

I Need a Megaphone!

I’m home alone with Grandpa and it’s time to put him to bed.

“Are you all alone?” he calls from his room.

I’ll be there in a minute,” I yell over my shoulder.

“What?” he says, trying to decipher what I said when this song comes to mind:

Home, home on the range,
where Jill and Grandpa play.
Where seldom is heard a complete sentence or word,
and the old folks can’t hear what you say.

I love, Grandpa!

The Lord Told Me…

So I’m helping Grandpa on with his sweater this morning when he says, “The Lord told me it was Monday.”

Jill: “No Dad, it’s Sunday.”

Grandpa: “Well, the Lord told me it was Monday.”

Eric interjected jokingly from the hallway: “Well, it could be Satan, Grandpa.”

Grandpa didn’t hear him…

I thought to myself, next time he has any hair-brained ideas that he wants me to do for him, and tells me the Lord told him to do so, I’m gonna say: “Remember, Dad, the Lord told you it was Monday when it was really Sunday.”

The Patriarch of the Family

If you’re a regular viewer, it’s been a while since the last Grandpa episode – and I mean EPISODE!Grandpa is wheeled into dinner:

Grandpa: “I’m not going to say the dinner prayers anymore. The Lord told me the head of the house is supposed to say them.”

Robert: “Well, I still want you to say them.”

Grandpa: “Well, I don’t want to say them anymore. You’re the head of the household.”

Robert: “Well, I still want you to say them!”

Me: “You are the head of the house dad. You’re the oldest one here. I want you to say them, too.”

Argument begins to escalate here. Voices rise. Grandpa and Robert exchange orders…”Yes you are!” “No, I’m not!” “Yes you are!” “No I’m not!”

Me: “Dad, why do you have to always change things. We’ve been doing it this way for a long time. You need to do what you can do for the family.”

Eric: “You’re the patriarch, Grandpa. You should say them.”

Grandpa: “That’s not the head of the family. The Lord told me, the head of the family is supposed to say the prayers.”

Me: “Let’s take a vote. Who wants Grandpa to still say the prayers.” Everyone raises their hands, except Grandpa.

Eric: “I don’t know Grandpa. I don’t think God would tell you to stop praying (in other words, could it be SATAN? Sometimes the enemy pinches Grandpa when things have been going along too peacefully).”

Robert: “You can eat in your room until you decide to say the prayers.”

Me in Grandpa’s bedroom trying to reason with him (why do I bother?): “Actually Grandpa, we have two heads of the family. You’re the head of my side, and Robert is the head of the children’s side (I wasn’t born the middle child for nothing, ya know).”

I can see Grandpa’s wheels turning with the thought of two heads to the household, even if one of them is technically 92 going on 6:

Grandpa: “Well, that’s one way to look at it.”

Maybe I’ve made an inroad to the brain inside the head with the hoary gray hair (I say that in all due respect).

Me: “I don’t have any more energy for you, Grandpa.”

Eric continues to minister to Grandpa by trying to get him to eat. I wonder why he isn’t hungry anymore?

I go back to the dinner table and finish my soup and sandwich. I can’t even taste it, giving credence to the Bible verse: “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” Proverbs 17:1.


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