Friday, June 23, 2006

Grandma Sophie

In a week and a half, Bump, Lumpyhead and I will head to Minnesota to visit my family. It's our first trip there since Lumpyhead was born; it will also be the first time my grandmother will see Lumpyhead.

I fear it will be the last.

My grandmother's health has declined over the past few years. I remember her as vibrant and active; I struggled to keep pace with her when I was in high school. If she wasn't canning the beans from her garden, she was baking bread or cleaning her house or painting the garage. If my mother invited Grandma to dinner, she would rarely come. If instead my mother asked Grandma to come help her __________ [insert "clean," "cook," "bake," "paint," "mow". . . whatever] and then stay for dinner, however, Grandma always said yes. If she couldn't be helpful, she preferred to stay home.

A series of small strokes has left Grandma confused, tired, and angry. Her conversations are stilted as she searches for the words that have disappeared from her mind. She is frustrated when her memory fails her. Her personality has changed.

She is short with my mother, and sometimes is downright mean. She's depressed. She doesn't sleep well.

She had a near accident in her car, so at her request, my uncle sold it. She relies on my dad to take her to the grocery store once a week. It drives her crazy that her children won't let her mow her own damn lawn. They take care of her yard for her, but in her opinion, they always come a day or two later than it needs to be done.

Every once in awhile someone from town will see her on her front walk with the weedeater, and instantly tattle on her to my parents or uncle. At the next Sunday dinner my mom or uncle will chide her for doing yardwork again, which she'll deny. After being busted because so-and-so saw her on Tuesday with the weedeater, she'll claim she was only out there for five minutes because the walk needed trimming and "you kids weren't coming to mow until Thursday." There will be much eyerolling and sighing on everyone's part, and Grandma will begrudgingly promise to call my mother or my aunts next time. Which, well, you know.

She's old and feeble and sick. And it makes me so sad.

I want Lumpyhead to know the woman she used to be. The hard-working, strong, funny lady who made me popcorn when we watched The Love Boat and Fantasy Island together. Instead, if he remembers her at all, he will know the disoriented, gloomy old person who talks slowly and took my grandmother away.


Jill said...

Whoo-hoo Minnesota! The Land-O-Lakes rocks. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

I know what you mean about grandmas. The warm, vibrant grandma I grew up knowing is so different than the grandma my little brothers knew. You'll just have to tell Lumpyhead the stories you remember.

Em said...

I know exactly how you feel, but if you can remember to tell Lumpyhead all of those great stories then he will have a sense of her personality and how special she is to you.

laurie said...

au contraire, ma soeur. i say you plant whatever memories you want to in that lumpy head of his. my grandmother had alzheimer's and we grandchildren weren't even allowed to see her for the last year or so of her life (so we wouldn't remember her that way). i was 11 when she died. however, my mom idolized her, and the stories that she tells of her vibrant, beautiful, selflessly wonderful mother have augmented (and in some cases supplanted) my own scant memories of her. i guess what i'm trying to say is that unless your grandmother lives until lumpyhead is way old, you'll have the opportunity to shape the way lumpyhead gets to remember her. i'm grateful for my mom's stories as they represent my grandmother the way she really was. i mainly supply the picture of what she looked like in my childhood and the love i remember getting from her.

have a good trip. i hope your visit brings your grandmother some happiness and lightness. and i hope you don't feel crappy crap on the trip. (you're flying, i assume? lumpyhead's first flying? good luck with that too!)

Mom101 said...

You should know that when I forwarded your blog url to my mom, really for the verily post, she read this one first. She told me she cried, it struck so close to home.

Thought you should know you connected.

nonlineargirl said...

This is really hard. I was so sad my grandmother never got to meet Ada, but the woman she was at the end was not the hilarious, fun-loving, sporty woman she had been most of her life. Cherishing the memories you have of her and sharing those with Lumpyhead are wonderful.