Suddenly Grandpa yells from his room, “Jill, Bob, come here! It’s really important!”
“I don’t want to exercise tonight! Can I take the night off? I can’t write! I can’t think!”
“Just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water,” Robert says (insert Jaws theme music here).
“No!” says Robert in his typical no-mincing words rhetoric (the art of discourse to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations).
Robert’s response is totally ignored by Grandpa.
Eric steps in to help because he’s getting ready for work in the washroom next to Grandpa’s room. He tries to sooth the savage beast and his fears before heading off to work.
“Don’t you think it’s kind of funny that you’re having this problem Grandpa when you are writing a new book about our struggles with the enemy?” he says.
Grandpa half listens, but he ain’t buying it.
Eric offers to pray with him.
Eric’s prayer falls on deaf ears.
After Eric leaves for work, Grandpa comes wheeling down the hall and plants himself firmly in the middle of the living room opposite my computer area and stares out the window.
He sits…and sits…and I try to ignore him as I work on designing a brochure for my friend Linda for her beauty salon.
I glance over my shoulder.
Out of the corner of my eye I see that Grandpa has turned around. I feel his beady little eyes staring me in the back.
I quickly turn around and ignore him… I ignore him some more… and some more.
What seems like and eternity passes and I begin to feel guilty.
Then the Lord says to me in a pretty loud voice, “That’s not compassion, Jill.”
Ugh! Ugh! Double ugh!!
I pray a quick prayer, “God give me the strength of Mother Theresa!” I don’t want to yell, I don’t want to react, I just want to handle this interruption with mercy and grace.
One daughter says, “Who’s Mother Theresa, some random nun?”
The other says matter-of-factly, “A gap in her education.”
I turn around and wheel my chair over to Grandpa. I listen as he expresses his fear of falling when he get’s off the exercise equipment. He’s usually pretty shaky, but Bob always holds onto him. He isn’t going anywhere with Bob there.
I try to comfort Grandpa and explain that he is really benefiting from his exercise. His legs are a lot stronger and he doesn’t huff or puff when he walks down the hallway. Still, I tell him, “Maybe you can take a break tonight, but you’ll have to exercise on Sunday to make up for it.”
“How many 92 year olds have to exercise?” he complains.
I hear Robert yell down the hallway, “Dead 92 year olds don’t have to exercise! By-the-way, he adds, he’s still exercising!”
Well, that’s the end of that. Grandpa and I are overruled by the head of the household.
I comfort him and say, “Grandpa, the benefit of exercise far outweighs the momentary discomfort.” Hey, isn’t that found on the Bible somewhere? I say to myself.
Yes, 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
Keep fighting the good fight, Grandpa. You won’t have to exercise in heaven. You can sit on a cloud and sip tea with Mother Theresa!
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!
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’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!
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.”