Monday, October 10, 2011

You are the trip I did not take

Patience is a hard-earned trait. It needs to be cultivated and nurtured and takes years of practice to master—I can tell that I am already a more patient person than when I first became a mother four years ago, which tells me that I still have a long ways to go before my patience is perfected. And likely, just when I'm about reach the pinnacle of perfection is when my patience will be tried the hardest. 

Today we visited my grandparents and my grandpa didn't seem as coherent as he did last time. Rachel watched my grandma help drag him to the bathroom and wanted to know why. The answer is that he often forgets what he's doing—his brain even forgets to make his feet go—so he'll get stuck walking places. This happened on his solo return trip from the bathroom. We had all been visiting and forgot that Grandpa was in the bathroom at all until Rachel said, "Uhhhh...what is Grandpa doing?"

He was standing in the hall, staring off into space, halfway between the bathroom and the living room. 

Grandma went and helped guide him back to his chair. 

Later my dad asked her if she would be going to Georgia for the big Duggar reunion there. She said no and pointed out that she's not exactly in a position to go anywhere. Not with Grandpa, not without Grandpa. 

There is a poem by Anne Campbell, called To My Child. In my Grandma's case (and really both of my Grandmas' cases because my mom's mom spent a large chunk of her life caring for her ailing husband as well) I think a good alternate title could be To My Husband.

You are the trip I did not take, you are the pearls I could not buy,
you are my blue Italian lake, you are my piece of foreign sky.

You are my Honolulu moon, you are the book I did not write,
you are my heart's unuttered tune, you are a candle in my night.

You are the flower beneath the snow, in my dark sky a bit of blue,
answering disappointment's blow with "I am happy I have you!"

What an example of patience and charity, though, to care for the one you love for years and years (and years and years more in some cases) even when they are losing abilities left and right—unable to walk down the hallway, let alone reach that bowl from the top shelf for you. It makes me kind of sad and scared and happy and awed all at the same time. Although I'm sad to watch the decline of the great man my grandfather was, I'm amazed with my grandmother and all the women (and men) who willingly serve their ailing spouses. I'm scared to think that one day Andrew and I will be in their shoes and it makes me so grateful for the youthful relationship we have now—where instead of having a trip down the hall be our adventure, it's a hike up a mountain; it's a good reminder to build a repertoire of fun and happy memories to fall back on when the going gets tough—but I'm happy to know that we've promised to take care of each other through that even though it will be hard. 

But as my grandpa Conrad used to say, "Life is hard and then you die!" 

I may as well get used to the hard stuff.

Anyway, I learned today that I am not cut out for getting my grandpa to move across the room. I tried to help switch him from his chair to the couch but it was a long and slow process. Miriam thought it looked like fun, though! She latched onto mine and grandma's hands and started singing, "Ring around the rosy!"

It was kind of funny (okay; it was really quite funny) but I think it may have confused Grandpa and slowed his commute even more. In the end I gave up trying to help and left Grandma to firmly and patiently command Grandpa to move his legs. He was having trouble with his left side today—Grandma says it kind of switches off.

We switched him to the couch solely to get a picture with four generations in it. My girls, me, my dad, and my grandparents. My mom took the picture, even though she was nervous about not being able to.

Minus the glare on my pesky glasses, which my mom couldn't have really helped, I think it turned out fairly well. We had a hard time getting everyone to smile and look at the camera at the same time, of course. The one with Miriam's thumb in her mouth turned out best. I suppose that's just as well—it's natural for her.

(On a completely unrelated note, I love how Miriam's feet are sticking straight out in the picture above and how Rachel's feet are sticking straight out in the picture below.)

We had a few quiet moments before the silliness began. First, Miriam fell off the couch.

(I like how Rachel's face is all, "Huh...look at that...Miriam's falling off the couch.")

Then Rachel decided she'd sit on the couch "backwards." 

And then Miriam thought she'd join her in her backwardness. 

My sister Kelli stopped by with her boys for a few minutes, too, but had to rush off. It was nice to see her, too!

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