Some things are better done with a good-sized margarita flowing through your system.
Helping get your mother change your grandmother’s Depends is one of those things.
Shortly after her diagnosis Grandma became bed-ridden and was moved from her second-story bedroom to a hospital bed in the sunroom. My aunt came and helped out, but toward the end of the week my mom sent her home. Aside from changing Grandma’s bedding and such, there wasn’t much to do except sit in the sunroom watching TV. And since Grandma liked to sit in the sunroom watching you watch TV, it was a bit uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, with Aunt Betty gone there was no-one to help Mom change Grandma’s unders. Grandma wasn’t completely “with it” but was aware enough that my dad couldn’t help. Mom asked me to help until Aunt Betty returned on Sunday. Of course I agreed, but I wasn’t looking forward to it. In fact, I can probably think of a thousand things I’d rather do than confront my grandma’s nether regions.
For Date Night that week Teacher took me to Antijitos Mexicanos, my favorite Mexican restaurant and we each had a large margarita. Yes, at one time I did name Solea as my fave, but that was before Antijitos started serving margaritas. Solea is a close second, but lost out to Antijitos’ atmosphere and chili-powder infused margarita salt. Yum!
After we got home and put the boys to bed I went over to help Mom. As I walked down our driveway I wondered if it was appropriate to be slightly margarita-happy when I put my grandma to bed. I decided that it could only be better for everyone if I was more relaxed. Besides, judging by the stories my mom tells, my grandma wouldn’t complain; she knew how to kick back and enjoy herself when she was younger.
When I got there Grandma was slightly agitated. She put her hand down by her hip and felt around, “It’s a little wet down there.” Mom told me that Grandma couldn’t feel that she was wet except with her hands. “That’s OK, Grandma.” I reassured her. “We’ll get you dry and comfy and ready for bed.” Mom peeked under the covers to survey the situation; the unders had leaked both up and down, so we had to change everything from sheets to nightie to bed jacket.
Grandma was stiff and not able to help much but she did what she could. First we helped her roll toward me. She grabbed the bed rails and I supported her while Mom pushed the wet stuff towards the middle of the bed and put dry stuff on her side of the bed. Then we helped Grandma roll the other way where Mom supported her while I removed the wet items and pulled the dry ones over to my side of the bed. Each time we moved Grandma she tensed and pressed her lips together tightly. It broke my heart to know we were causing her even the slightest pain, but I knew she’d be more comfortable in the long run. Grandma was incredibly patient with
our my fumbling and didn’t complain one bit.
Next we helped her sit up so we could get her into a dry nightie and bed jacket. At one point Grandma looked up at Mom and said ‘Well now, who will do this for me when you’re gone?” Startled, neither of us said anything at first, then Mom said “Where would I go? I’ll be here; don’t worry.” and I said “I’ll do it if she’s not here, Grandma. Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of you.”
When she was all settled for the night I gave her a goodnight hug and she thanked me for my help. Her hug felt the same as it had my whole life – I guess Grandma hugs never change. I kissed her gently on the forehead and wished her sweet dreams.
On the short walk home I thought about how wrong I’d been. Helping get my grandma ready for bed wasn’t the scary ordeal I’d dreaded; it was an honor and a privilege. I remembered the times she’d taken care of me when I was ill, and the countless times she’d tucked me into bed and given me a goodnight kiss on the forehead.
I’m thankful I was able to do the same for her.
More to come…