Thursday, August 23, 2012

Grandma Helen

Grandma Helen, December 2011

My grandma is one funny lady. She always seems to bring joy and laughter wherever she goes. Because of her increasingly old age (you will note the '90' candles on the birthday cake above), she has a tendency to only remember very small pieces of what you tell her, and she harps on those tiny bits of information incessantly.

For example, I took John Bosco as my patron saint at confirmation, and she has never forgotten it. Every time she sees me, and multiple times throughout our visits she will call me by my full name, "Catherine Victoria John Bosco." As you can imagine, that would get real old real fast, and somewhat embarrassing depending on the surroundings. Similarly, at one point we told her about our long time parish priest passing away. That evening she mentioned it every ten minutes:
          "I heard Fr. Reiser died!"
          "Did I hear Fr. Reiser died?"
          "How is Fr. Reiser doing?"
          "I think someone died but I can't remember who..."
Finally, four years ago my sister cut my hair for the first and last time. Every time I have seen my grandma since, she asks "Did you get your hair cut? Did Audrey do it?" Even if I hadn't gotten it cut.

Needless to say, dealing with her memory loss takes a lot of patience, patience that I definitely have not always practiced. However, a turn of events occurred yesterday when I visited my grandma in the hospital after she had a stroke on Sunday. She was just lying in her bed, so helpless. I hardly recognized her because she didn't have her teeth in. At first I didn't even know if she recognized us, it just seemed as if she was staring up at us blankly. After we said hello, and introduced ourselves, we talked and asked questions, but her only responses were "yeah" and "okay."

What happened to my grandma? This wasn't her! "Come back! Ask me about Fr. Reiser! Call me by my full name! Ask about my new hair cut!" I found myself wishing she would ask me her repeated questions. I then realized I had totally taken my grandma for granted, and now it was hitting me that she may be close to the end. As we were leaving her room, we said our goodbyes. We told her we would be back soon, and she mumbled her trademark "Okie doke" and blew us a kiss and waved. That's my grandma, alright.

Visiting my grandma in the hospital taught me two hard lessons: 1. We must not take anyone for granted for we know not the day nor the hour. 2. This is not the end for her. Although her jokes, laughter and smile will be greatly missed, I am so excited for her to meet our Maker, the One to whom she has been so faithful for all these years.

Dear Grandma, may our Blessed Mother watch over you and pray for you, now and at the hour of your death.

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