Life has a way of balancing out bad with good; although we were worried about Grandma’s health, we had Uncle Jay and Dee’s wedding to look forward to.
Plans for the wedding were moving along quickly, and since we weren’t sure if Grandma would be able to attend the wedding we made sure to include her at every step.
Dee had asked me to be one of her bridesmaids but instead of choosing a stereotypically ugly bridesmaid dress for us she let us pick our own from David’s Bridal. We just had to follow three rules: 1. It had to be long. 2. The color had to be “Apple.” 3. We had to either all pick the same dress or all pick different dresses; no two of one and one of something else. Is Dee the coolest bride or what?!
After Teacher and I bought my bridesmaid dress I called my mom to ask when I should bring it over to show Grandma. It was late so I suggested waiting until the next night but Mom said “I wouldn’t wait, I think you should bring it over now.” Worried that Grandma had taken a turn for the worse I threw the dress bag over my arm and rushed over.
Once I got there I realized I’d been worried over nothing, “Grandma, I brought over my dress for the wedding to show you!” I said. I knew Grandma would want to see it; she had been an expert seamstress when she was younger and never lost her appreciation for beautiful clothing.
As I took the gown out of the bag Grandma’s eyes lit up. She reached out to gently stroke the satin skirt as I held the dress out toward her. She examined the tulle underskirt and flowers on the gown’s shoulders; “Beautiful, just beautiful!” she said. As mom and I chatted Grandma looked alternately at me and the dress with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face. She looked and sounded so much like herself that it was hard to remember how ill she was.
For the flower girls, Peanut and Love Bug, Dee chose a spring dress from Kohls instead of an overpriced dress from a bridal store. When the dresses went on sale my mom offered to take Princess and Peanut to get them. Mom had a coupon for an additional discount on top of the sale price, but she had to be there to use her Kohls credit card. Since Grandma couldn’t be left alone and my dad had to work I was elected to “Grandma-sit.”
I admit quite frankly that I’m not good with the elderly; I’ll take a roomful of two year olds over a visit to the nursing home any day. I think it goes back to my childhood; I remember visiting one of my great-grandmas when I was a child. She smelled funny, didn’t do anything but sit in a chair with a blanket over her legs, and every time I said something to her she’d just nod her head and say “En so, en so…” Because she was my great-grandma I knew I should love her even though I didn’t know her well, but I was also afraid of her.
Knowing my grandma so well and loving her so much, I wasn’t ever afraid of her. But I was terrified of what might happen while I was alone with her. What if the blood clot let loose? What if she stopped breathing? What if she choked on her cookie? What if she needed her unders changed? What if she tried to get out of bed? What if she did something I hadn’t even thought of?
When I arrived Mom gave me a brief run-down: where the medications were and when/how to use them, who to call in case something happened, please-please-please don’t let anything happen! what to offer Grandma after she finished her cookie, etc. It reminded me of the “briefings” I received as a teenage babysitter.
“Hi Grandma!” I said as I stepped down into the sunroom. It was strange to see my grandma – who had always been known for having an abundance of energy – sitting in a hospital bed, but her smile was the same as always. “I’m going to keep you company while Mom goes to the store.” I gave her a hug then settled in a rocker near her bed. She smiled at me then looked back at the TV; she couldn’t follow what was going on but liked to watch anyway.
I opened my laptop and started a letter to Cowboy, but every time Grandma moved I jumped and looked to make sure she was OK. “Hey, your cookie is all gone, how about a drink?” I walked around to the front side of the bed to lift her cup for her. “Whoops, your water is all gone; I’ll get you some more.” I held the straw up to her mouth so she could drink, “Enough? How about some pudding or applesauce?” She asked for applesauce, and as she ate it I tried to talk to her a bit but she was tired and I could tell she wasn’t following me well. Or maybe she just wasn’t interested in what I was saying; who knows?
In a surprisingly short time Mom came home, a Kohls bag hanging next to the purse on her arm. After hanging up her coat she stepped into the sunroom to greet Grandma. Taking one of the little girls’ dresses from the bag she held it out for Grandma to see, Isn’t this pretty, Mom? This is what the little girls will be wearing for Uncle Jay’s wedding.”
Grandma reached out to finger the embroidered chiffon overskirt, “Oh, that’s lovely, just lovely!” she sighed. She watched as Mom and I lifted the matching shrug to peek at the bodice, then turned the dress over to look at the ribbon bow in back. “Won’t the girls be pretty in this pale yellow?” I asked, “With one having such dark hair and eyes while the other is so fair?” “Well, I’ll say!” Grandma answered with a nod of her head. I don’t know if she knew which girls we were talking about, but there was no doubt she thought they’d be pretty in the dresses.
I headed home to put the boys to bed, feeling both relieved and disappointed at the same time. I was relieved that nothing had happened while I was there, but disappointed that the time had gone so quickly. Once I’d gotten over my fear I’d enjoyed helping Grandma and just being with her – even if we didn’t do anything more than sit quietly in the same room together.
More to come…