Friday, December 10, 2010

Grandma is 94

Grandma on her 94th birthday

When I arrived at the nursing home to pick Grandma up, I learned that she had been moved from her room in the ladies' main ward to another room in the dementia ward. Apparently she has been even more confused than usual and the staff felt she needs more attention, which she will get in the "locked" ward, which is like a tiny community in itself.

I let myself through the doors and entered the nearby sitting room, where I found Grandma tucked into a loveseat holding hands with another little lady. They looked like two little girls; and the other lady said with dismay, "You aren't taking her away, are you?"

We went over to my niece Cara's a few blocks away and had tea and goodies with my sister Karen and my aunt Shirley, but I don't recall Grandma saying a word the whole time unless she was directly spoken to. Did she enjoy herself? It's hard to tell.

She has become slow-moving and less able to do things like put her coat on, zipper it up, even pull on her gloves. I dressed her like a child, and Everett led her with the walker she now uses. Getting her safely in and out of my van was a struggle, as even with the stool we carry to help Emil get in and out of the vehicle, Grandma doesn't move with confidence anymore. I could still boost her up, but in the confined space of the back seat it was difficult to help her manoeuvre into position to put her seatbelt on and I was afraid of hurting her. Everett, who has the long arm and the strength to do it better than I, could not fit his larger self in there comfortably enough to reach around her and help her slide all the way onto the seat. We managed, but Grandma was huffing and puffing by the time her seatbelt was securely fastened, and then again by the time we got her out again and back to her room. She was exhausted and I suggested she lie down for a nap after I took her jacket, gloves, hat and scarf off and put them away. I had to lift her legs onto the bed. 

I covered her up with a small quilt Mom made, which lies folded at the bottom of Grandma's bed. I told her that Emil has been asking to come and see her, so we'd try to get there this weekend. When I said Emil's name she perked up and asked, "Emil?" That is Grandpa's name also, and I bet she thought of him right away.

As I went out the door I called back, "Have a happy birthday," and she echoed as I made my way down the hallway, "Happy Birthday."


  1. alrighty there Miss Kate, I had written a comment here, then it told me to select a profile; I then chose wordpress, went rambling through my bookwhichcontainssuchinfoaswordpressusernames...asthe little note said i had to put logged into wordpress first, prior to commenting here...did just so, came back to send and my comments were vaporised. Oh's something of what I wrote:

    I am moved to the core by your story about Grandma's 94th birthday, envisioning visions of sweetness and love surrounding this special lady.

    with gratitude,

    always xo

  2. Oh, I can imagine how frail she must be! But she looks lovely...I think there is a special glow around the very old.

    In my experience, once people are moved to the dementia ward, they find it more and more confusing to relate to the outside world. Routine is the very best to combat anxiety and they find it safe in the confines of the ward. But I believe going out and getting fresh air and perspective, for a short while, is beneficial as well. Lovely, lovely post, dear Katie!

  3. Dear Kathy, as i sit here and read your story about your grandma's 94 birthday I am amazed to find out this is the little grandma we used to visit in Margo when we were young girls. You wrote such a tender and loving story about her, it brought a few tears to my eyes. I work in a nursing home and I take care of so many people's grandma and these dear sweet little people all have such beautiful stories to tell. Congratulations to her and you for taking the time to spend with her on that very special day.


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