Old Age

One of my summer to-do tasks was to begin blogging regularly, but I was hijacked by a family obligation.

I was always close to my maternal grandparents, who in my youngest memories ran a small dairy farm, and in later years raised beef cattle. My grandfather passed away six or seven years ago, and since then my grandmother has lived with my parents. My grandmother had been out to visit me in Idaho for a couple of months twice since then, and she was very much her normal self on both visits.

My parents needed a break, plus they had some summer travel plans, so my grandmother came to me (and my family) in April, for a two-month visit which ended up being a four-month stay. I honestly expected the visit to be similar to previous visits, in spite of knowing that my grandmother was slipping a little mentally, which isn’t really surprising at age 95!

The reality of the situation was completely unexpected. I am a calm and patient person, but the many forgotten experiences, the repeated questions and comments, the slide in understanding, and the subtle shifts in personality quickly took their toll on my stress level, especially when I had a huge stack of summer projects and tasks.

I am glad to have had her with us for several reasons. I am glad that I pitched in to help my parents and I am glad that my children were able to see that THIS is what we do with our loved ones. I am also glad that I gained this experience, to empathize with my parents, and with others who are dealing with dementia in loved ones. There is absolutely nothing like walking in those shoes. I am also glad that my children have (to a much lesser degree) gained this experience.

She went back to my parents a couple of weeks ago, and I am grateful that my son was available to accompany her on the airplane. She has since turned 96, and I think she may have already forgotten that she was here at all.

Old age is like an opium dream. Nothing seems real except the unreal.

– – – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”

Said the old man, “I do that too.”

The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”

“I do that too,” laughed the old man.”

Said the little boy, “I often cry.”

The old man nodded, “So do I.”

“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems

Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”

And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.

“I know what you mean,” said the old man.

– – – – Shel Silverstein