Regular readers will know I visit my nonogenarian grandmother weekly in her care home. It has been a joy and a pleasure, it has opened my eyes to so much, but at times it has also been depressing, infuriating and tiring. Without fail she spends the first half hour of our visits describing the awful things that have happened to her each week. Usually they aren't that awful, but she has nothing to do except think about them so they get exaggerated in her mind. a lot. She has all her marbles but her memory is failing and she often tells me the same things over and over.
I'm sure there is a reason for me visiting her. I felt very strongly that God was telling me to go see her and throughout that time we have shared lots of things, some she tells me that no one else knows (although I suspect most of it they do its just that she has forgotten telling them!). We talk a lot about faith and I think, hope, that I am answering her questions faithfully. But sometimes I wonder why I am there. She just moans at me, I do a few jobs and then go home. But then she tells me something simple, like 'I'm so pleased you're here' or 'you are wonderful coming to see me' that makes it all worthwhile. Not that I go to receive praise, I go because she needs someone to show her some love. Thats about it really.
But today I listened to her moaning and I just thought how sad her life is. Does it all have to come to that? Due to a leg injury she is not able to get out of her chair, and having been immobile for 2 months they now, say it would be too difficult to get her up and moving again (thats another post entirely..). So she cannot go to the loo. She is reduced to the level of an infant by wearing pads (or nappies..). Yet she knows when she needs the loo. She is not stupid, she still has her faculties intact. When she needs to go for no 2. (don't want to be too graphic!) they have to get her on a hoist to put her on the loo, which requires 2 people and a lot of effort, so invariably by the time they get her there it is too late.
She had a stroke a few years back so she cannot swallow properly and has to have her food pureed. Half of which she refuses to eat. and I don't blame her, it looks like muck all whizzed up.
She cannot do a thing without help. Just imagine, you are too hot, you cant reach the blankets but you cant get up to get them either. The light is on but you want to go to sleep, you can't just reach and turn it off. You fancy a drink of water but there is none in your room. You want to read a book but you can't reach the books on the shelves. I could go on. She has to ring her bell to do ANYTHING. (and it always takes them ages to answer the bell...)
When I thought about this today it made me think, well no wonder she moans... BUT she has had a choice. to accept it gracefully and try to be content. OR to get irritated by every little thing and let it get to her. It is now so ensconsed in her attitudes that I don't think she could change if she wanted to. I try to help her to be positive or to suggest ways to be happier but do you know what? I don't think she can. I think she has accepted her lot, very ungracefully. and I really don't blame her, don't get me wrong, but I guess it has shown me, like anything in life you have a choice. Sometimes shit happens (as Lesley wrote the other day...) and getting old is pretty shit. My Nan always tells me 'it's not much fun getting old you know..', but it's how you deal with it that makes a difference.
I'm not sure what I'm trying to say today, I think I'm just letting off steam. I think I am frustrated because there is nothing I can do to help her except just be there. And frustrated because she is miserable. Frustrated because she has a wonderful heart but this is mostly hidden behind the moans. Frustrated because she is still alive and has a brain but is spening her life just sat in a chair waiting for the next cup of tea.