My grandmother has recently moved into the new nursing home that they've built in our town. It's easier for her there, because though none of us are from this godforsaken place, there are many more family members here than there are back home to care for her. We are better able to visit, or we can spring her out from time to time when we're having a function. I go there as often as I can, and it's always a riot.
My grandmother has her good days and bad days though. Sometimes she'll be completely lucid... other days she'll be telling you about the hot young stud that she's met that she's about to shack up with. Sometimes her supposed paramour is the Reverend (he's frisky!). Then there are the days when she's sad, which are the hardest to take. The last time I went to visit my grandmother, I was not prepared to have it affect me so deeply as it did.
When I walked in, she was sitting in her recliner as she usually is but she wasn't in her usual jovial mood, ready to laugh and joke about old times. We talked as we usually do about how she was keeping, how many pills she takes, if she takes more pills than the lady next door, (she doesn't but hers are bigger, for the win), the bingo game she won big money at that morning, how she'd had her hair done since I'd seen her on the weekend, and then we stopped after a short chat about the latest geezer gossip. Man, those old birds love to bicker!
Then it took a serious turn.
She spoke about how hard it was for her when my dad died; how hard it was to lose her favourite son. How hard it must have been for me to grow up without a father. I started to get teary eyed when she did, and I pictured how it was that day at his funeral. As she told me about how windy it was at the cemetery, I could picture her and I holding each other at the grave site, weeping. How the fact that it was a sunny day seemed like it was the Universe spitting in my face. How can the world go on? Why did the entire world not stop when my father died, since mine had?
I hugged her and told her it was going to be okay, that he was in a better place and so on because I know she believes in that kind of thing, that he was waiting for us in heaven and all that, like you would... But I started to break down, crying and thinking about how much my dad means to me. I was thinking about his funeral and how we played "Electric Avenue" because it was his favourite song and the sole reason that Daddy always assumed that he was a fan of Reggae music.
I was getting really into the crying. Not just dainty little tears, but big ugly sobs with dripping nose included. I must have needed a good cry, and being a naturally melancholy person I was up to the job of letting a good one out. Grandma and I cried a little, and hugged each other. She may have rocked me at one point, but the rest becomes a little hazy; this was when I started to snap out of it.
The problem is, you see...
My dad is not dead.
My dad is very much alive. He can attest to that himself and knowing him, I'm sure he'd tell us more information than is really necessary to prove how young and alive he really is.
Yes, I can picture him dying, and it makes me incredibly uncomfortable. The very thought devastates me entirely! I got so swept up in the moment that I lost all form of self control and logic. Not to mention what I myself must have inflicted on my poor grandmother, needing to be comforted by her! I was a liability to her in her grief because even though she's knows that my dad is alive, to her at that moment her grief is real. I was not supportive in the least and felt terribly for it later.
Shame on me for being such a flake! I think from now on I'll make sure my visits coincide with Bingo or pub night, and I'll stick to the tried and true subjects when I'm talking to Grandma. Like who takes the most/biggest pills, who's the hottest ticket in the place, and who does the minister favour more? Always winners, and not quite so likely to make me emo. She deserves to be happy and joyful at the age of 90, otherwise, what do you have?
My sister always did joke that Dementia was contagious, and I didn't believe it until now. So in that spirit, I will offer you a musical selection in honour of my Daddy: