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Friday, June 1, 2012

my sweet mary evelyn.

it's been years in the making, but i finally did it.  i put my big girl panties on and agreed to go up to Pennsylvania to see my grandparents.  i could not continue the emotional denial any further.  we packed our family of five in the car and left last weekend for what has been avoided for the last three years. 

this would be the first time i would see my grandmother since she lost the ability to recognize people. 

i knew what to expect, but i didn't know what to expect.  you know how people will say things like "she acts like a toddler now" or "she gets confused easily."  it's all very different when you experience it for yourself, and probably for a thousand different reasons.

If old people had exersaucers, these would be the toys attached to my grandma's.

i walked into the house at 7:30am.  she had just finished eating her cereal.  her hair was all over the place --- boy, if she knew what she looked like, she wouldn't be sitting there like that for my husband and i to see.  she was always well put together.  hair and make-up always done.  and here she sat before me looking like a frizzy lionness.  i said "good morning" to her and immediately asked her if she was done eating so i could take her bowl to the sink.  she gave me a quick "yup!" and off i went.  upon returning to the table i noticed her gazing fondly at my hubby's sneakers.  she said, "WOW!  Look at those shoes!  Those are NICE!"  and there it was... that innocence that was undeniably adorable.  over the next five minutes i took over sitting with her while my hubby, kids, and grandfather went outside to look at the pool we would all be converging on to disassemble shortly.  when my mom made it to town the first thing she did was to put my grandma's hair back in a french braid.  she finally resembled the woman i called grandma.

i couldn't stop staring at her, remembering all the fond things she used to say to me.  i sat watching her with tears in my eyes, which turned into tears down my face, which illicited much inquisition from grandma.  she was so puzzled.  "why are you clying?"  ... "or something like that."  she used words that were slightly wrong, but she didn't know what was wrong about them, so she couldn't fix it to say "cRying."  i tried to explain that my tears were because i missed her house, this place, this life with my grandparents involved, but she didn't understand, and she stopped paying attention.  she started singing "doodlydoodledoooooo" and tapping away with a ruler on a cup.  i knew deep down inside, this was still the same woman.  her love of music hasn't stopped.  she even started whistling.

at one point i made some silly face in a reaction to something she did --- i got the biggest laugh in return.  hmmmmmmmmmm she likes it.  she likes crazy silly faces.  MORE FACES!  so i pulled out all the stops, constantly making silly faces and even resorted to making silly farting noises.  i had her rolling.  and you know what was the best part?  she told me how cute i was.  i think i stopped breathing.  i found myself back in tears.  she is so much like the old her, but she just can't remember me. 

i so love her.

 it was a 90 degree day in Pennsylvania that day.  my grandparents don't have air conditioning, nor do they believe in opening windows to cool down.  there wasn't a fan in sight and the only thing we had to cool us down was being destroyed in the backyard {the pool}.  with six kids running around miserable from the heat, we found them constantly in and out of the house.  their gut was to go inside to get away from the heat, but then they'd get there and realize it was hotter there than outside. 

each and every time my oldest daughter would enter the house, my grandmother would stop doing whatever she was doing and she'd just stare at Emma.  truth be told Emma didn't know what to say and after the first few instances of this my sweet baby girl was really bothered by the attention.  my grandma would stare at her and just say "wowwwwwww, you are BEAUTIFUL!" over and over and over and over.  she was completely enamored by her, which warmed my heart to  no end.  i tear up just thinking of it.  i'm so touched that even in her confused state, she can say such lovely things to my child.  i know emma was uncomfortable, but i hope one day that will be what she remembers of her great-grandma.  i'll never have my grandma tell me that i'm doing a great job with my kids, but at least i know she thinks they're beautiful.

Ethan (9 yrs)
Emma (8 yrs)
Sophie (6 yrs)
The pool that all the kids and grandkids learned to swim in...that my grandma is now afraid of.
Standing at the bridge where all of us kids and grandkids used to feed the minnows and take a quick dip...
... now the cows reign over this land - no swimming in there anymore!
After taking the kids down to the "crick," I walked back up to the house to find my hubby ready to head over to the hotel.  After a day of hard work in 90 degrees he needed to get to the air conditioned hotel room. 

Before I left I went inside to say goodbye to my grandma.  I found her in a chair panting and exhaling a lot.  I asked her if she was hot and she said "yes." it was as if she was seeing me for the first time again.  i told her i'd get her a nice cold cloth for her head {why had nobody thought of this yet?} -- when i returned i wiped her face and put the cold cloth on her head.  she looked longingly into my eyes and said "thank you for taking care of me."  i started crying.  she has always been the one to take care of me.  it made me really sad things aren't the same.  i told her how much i loved her and she said, "wow you sure are birdy!" and by that, based of my knowledge of things she used to say to us, i'm pretty sure she mean't "purdy" -- she followed it by saying... "or something like that!"  i gave her a big kiss on her cheek and bid her farewell until the next day.  i had to leave because i had to have an enormous cry. 

my grandma's name is mary evelyn.  she will only answer to this name.  she doesn't go by "mom" or "grandma" and if you do slip and call her that, she always asks "who's that?"  calling her mary evelyn this weekend was hard.  she is my grandma but as she exists today, she has no idea i belong to her.  that's a hard thing to swallow. 

we spent the next day with the entire family (23 of us) at the best amusement park on the planet, knoebel's grove.  my grandparents showed up late and left early, so we didn't get to spend much time with them there, but my kids had a great day to make up for the depressing and stifling day before.   as soon as i made it back to virigina, i ordered two slim standing oscillating fans from amazon and had them two-day shipped to my grandparents house.  the last thing i need to do is worry about my grandma getting heat stroke. 

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