We’re waiting for Grandpa’s breakfast to be delivered to his room again. The first tray that came up from the shadowy depths of the hospital bowels included a bowl of burnt grits.
As I lifted the lid off of the little black plastic bowl, a tell-tale smell caught my attention.
“Smells burnt,” I said to myself.
I mixed it with a little yogurt and gave it a try.
Ugh! Even Yoplait yogurt couldn’t disguise that nasty taste.
I called down to the kind folks in food service who are always willing to please, and ordered a bowl of oatmeal instead. I mentioned that if they happened to make a big pot of grits, they might want to check to see if it was burnt on the bottom (just sayin’). Sure enough, they informed me, it was.
So while we were waiting, I decided to settle into the comfy recliner in Grandpa’s room and write down a few thoughts that came to me this morning on the topic of “Consider Your Ways” from the book of Haggai.
Suddenly Grandpa starts singing!
It never fails, the minute – yes, the minute I try to write anything, Grandpa distracts me somehow, someway! It doesn’t matter whether we’re home or in the hospital, it happens all the time.
Frankly, after five years, I’m “sort of” used to it – okay, I’ve resigned myself to it, I’m not happy about it, but I am used to it.
And what is he singing you ask? Oldies and goodies. But, I don’t mean oldies from the 1950’s, I mean “real oldies,” like the ones from the 1920’s and 30’s:
“I am going to sit down and write a letter and make believe it came from you . . . ” he croons.
And then, not skipping a beat, he changes his tune:
“You must have been a beautiful baby, you must have been a beautiful child . . .”
I’m starting to lose my “chain of thought,” my “imp” in impetus, my motivation, my incentive, my inspiration!
I don’t have the heart to tell him to be quiet.
He finally stops singing and asks, “Where’s my oatmeal?”
“Consider Your Ways” . . . Ha! I am, Lord, and they totally mystify me, but I know they are ordained by You!
Yes, it’s just another day (5) at St. Joesph’s Hospital in Lexington, KY.
I’d really rather be home in my own kitchen making Grandpa eggs, sunny side-up, but I’m totally grateful to be here today, burnt grits and all.
I’m grateful that Grandpa needs sustenance (which means he’s still alive) because it’s kind of lonely at home without him – interruptions and all.
Grandpa gets done eating Anne’s cheese pudding and says analysis paralysis . . .
Haha. Too much to think about today and it’s gettin’ him down. In other words, Grandpa is growing impatient with his progress.
Today, he ate two eggs, and cheese pudding.
People who are dying can’t eat, I tell him.
You made great improvements today, Grandpa!
Grandpa needs prayer again friends. He may have a bacterial infection that is difficult to treat or it may just be a contaminated sample. The Doctor was a little vague, but we have to stay another day (it possibly could be more if this doesn’t get resolved) as the infectious disease specialist reviews his case and tells us what antibiotic treatment is best.
I am at peace, but Grandpa is a little restless. He REALLY wants to go home. So today I plan to get him in a wheel chair and wheel him around the hallways a bit, help get him up and walking with the physical therapists, and help him eat lunch and dinner. He did have great improvement with his swallowing, so THANK YOU for praying for him.
Grandpa’s health is in the Lord’s hands. The Father knows what he needs and His mercies are new every morning. I’m thankful I can be here with Grandpa to make this hospital stay bearable, comfortable, and maybe even enjoyable (he has very pretty nurses and that really gives him something to live for).
God hears the prayers of the afflicted and needy, a club which both Grandpa and I are premiere members.
Grandpa has been pretty good lately because he’s been taken off most of the medicine he was on when we got him. That’s right, praise God, Grandpa is almost drug free. He’s just on three pills now, so he is completely lucid and for the most part very reasonable.
Besides being very close to the Lord, which is so necessary for fighting off depression in old age, Grandpa looks to me to meet his emotional needs. This is normal for someone who is 93. It goes with the territory of being his daughter and caregiver. His radar is always out and looking for “Jill!” Whenever he comes in the room, he says, “There she is!”
I don’t mind being his main emotional support most of the time, but I’m also, from past experience, keenly aware of being manipulated.
So today when Grandpa came down to eat lunch, I continued working on my project which is getting Claire’s Pebbly Brook Farm Stories ready to go to print. These really should have been published a decade ago in paperback (we did an audio), but who’s keeping track.
My back is turned to Grandpa because my computer is next to the windows across from the dining room table. I didn’t turn around to say “hi” because I was in the middle of looking up punctuation on Grammar Girl to make sure that I was using the ellipses right (you know those three little . . . that you find in stories and emails and Facebook posts?).
Anyway, Grandpa comments, “You’re always working!” and he giggles that nervous little laugh he makes when he’s being naughty.
“Yes, I’m always working, Grandpa!” I say. “The opposite of working is being dead. Which do you prefer?” I ask.
“That’s true,” he admits.
Grandpa goes back to eating . . . Suddenly he begins to choke.
“I need a knife,” he says. “I need to cut this sandwich up. The bread is hard!”
In-between editing, I made Grandpa his lunch and the only bread we had left was some sandwich thins which had been in the freezer for a while. I figured he would have a little trouble eating them because he wears dentures, so I slathered them with mayonnaise and added tomato hoping it would soften them up at little. They were semi-soft at best, but not soft enough.
I got up and got Grandpa a knife, and asked him if he wanted me to cut his sandwich up.
“Oh, you’re too busy!” he said testily.
Just then, my manipulation alarm went off!
“If I was too busy, I wouldn’t be taking care of of you!” I replied.
“That’s true,” he said.
“Listen dad, you’re eating lunch in my office (even though it’s the kitchen, dining room, and living room all in one). If you want, I can come down to your bedroom and eat three meals a day while you’re working on your book and tell you you’re too busy!”
Bingo! The dawn of recognition! I see it register in Grandpa’s eyes . . .
“I used to be too busy before I got you Dad. You slowed me down quite a bit, and I’m glad!”
I turned back to the computer and begin reading Grammar Girl again.
Grandpa finished his lunch, and as he always says before he leaves the room, “I’ll see you later!”
“I’ll see you later, Grandpa,” I returned.
I told grandpa before he left the room, I don’t want to talk about work anymore. “It’s off limits!” I said.
“Okay,” he agreed.
I’m still not sure if I’m using these darn ellipses right . . . but I think I got my point across!
It seems like every time we go out of our way to bless Grandpa with something really special, he acts up…
So, for the last two days (count them – two!) Grandpa has been giving Robert a real hard time about exercising (again)! So, my husband says, he has to exercise 7 days this week instead of 5 (if the punishment fits the crime, wear it). Robert’s trying to get it through Grandpa’s head that complaining is a waste of time. But I think it kind of backfired because it seems that Grandpa dug his wheel chair in even deeper!
The thing is, we just got Grandpa cable TV because he loves watching sports. So, true to form, while the technician was installing the box in his bedroom, Grandpa thought this would be a great time to complain about exercising because he had a captive audience.
So I wheeled Grandpa into the kitchen to get him out of the tech’s earshot and try and reason with him.
Do you see the word “fool” written on my forehead???
After going around in circles with Grandpa (because, I can never win these 360 degree arguments), I told him, “This is the deal, Grandpa, If you exercise without complaining, you can watch TV. If you complain, you don’t get to watch TV.”
“You just got it for that reason, didn’t you?” he said testily.
“Yeah, right, Grandpa,” I said. “I thought ahead of time, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll use cable TV for a reward or punishment system when you’re being real naughty!”
Okay, truthfully, I didn’t say that to him, I just thought it . . .
Well, we went around and around some more and then he says, “You’re the one who brought this up in the first place.”
“Oh, no, I didn’t.” I said (and I didn’t – I have witnesses). Nice try, Grandpa. He sure knows how to push my buttons, doesn’t he?
“But what about my mental health?” he wailed.”All you think about is my physical health.”
Your mental health will mean diddly if you can’t walk from lack of exercise, I thought to myself.
You know, sometimes it’s like I’m just dealing with a six year old.
As a friend told me today, it’s the gravitational pull of the moon on the elderly brain… I’m not sure what it is, but I know one thing, it’s just another day in the swank senior citizen country club with the deluxe home gym and cable TV!
Comments from Grandpa’s fan club:
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!
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