Georgia Johnson, Best Grandma Ever. March 15th, 1920-October 14th, 2010

15 Oct

We are and will forever be grateful for every moment. Love you.

When my brain works again, I will put up better, larger sized pictures. But for the moment, I think you get the idea that she was much loved, adored and even pampered.

Stacey, Jamie, Evan and Shelby

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Grandma and Me

9 Oct

After a big haul from the farmer's market. Just because I feel like putting it up.

I Love You. I Love You Too, Sweetie.

5 Oct

In my other life, my Grandma’s death is sad, obviously, but the script well rehearsed. As opposed to my reality-based life, it is natural, expected and well, okay.

My Dad would call. ‘Sweetheart, you know that Grandma has been in poor health for a while now. Your Mom and I have called in Hospice and think it would be a good time for your girls and the kids to come out. She is not in any pain, and I know she’d like to see you. Let me put your Mom on the phone.’

‘Hi Mom. Yes, Jamie and I will drive out tomorrow. We should get there by dinner. Sure, spaghetti is fine. Has Dad called Schildknect’s and Lake View? Well, do you think we should plan on staying? Of course I know that you don’t know how long it will be. Just, you know, Dad won’t come out and say that he wants us to stay.

Yes. I’ll call Krupp’s. No, Mom. She hates pink. We’ll do yellow. The blue dress. The one she wore to my rehearsal dinner. Yes, that one. We shopped for it for a month. No, if we buy a new one she’ll come back and kill us all. Well, it’s true.’

And then we would go. ‘Now you girls shouldn’t have driven all this way. I told your Dad that you were busy and now the kids are missing school. This is an awful lot of to do about nothing. Stacey, in my top drawer, in my mad money wallet is $80. You all go out to dinner and I will have a chocolate shake when you come back.’

‘Okay, Grandma. I love you.’

‘I love you too, Sweetie.’

The yellow flowers were beautiful. And I told her she’d wear that dress again.

My other life is much more manageable, of course. In the one I’ve been given, there is no Dad. There is no Mom. There is me, and there is Jamie. There is no spaghetti and the blue dress is long since gone. But the yellow flowers, they will be beautiful.

I love you, Grandma.

I love you too, Sweetie.

I Know I Said The End….

19 Sep

But there really isn’t an end. Even though I can’t go home again, there is still Grandma.

She is fine and well in her new home, but we have run into several roadblocks in her new situation. She broke her other hip July 4th and had surgery for it, but for some reason has managed to dislocate it four times since having it replaced.

I have been awakened at 3am, 4am, 5am, and 9pm with the news from the nursing home. I have met her at the hospital each time and it is driving me insane. I know it is much worse for her than it is for me, having her hip repeatedly relocated, but it’s been no fun-fest on the receiving end of the emergency calls.

Grandma is 90 years old. The surgeon wants to do another surgery on her to re-seat the ball socket in her hip. I fear that she won’t survive surgery and there is a part of me that just wants it to end for her.

These are very difficult words to write, but you must understand, I never meant for her to suffer. I never meant for her to be cared for by strangers. I never meant to make the wrong decisions. I wanted her to be with me for all of the rest of her days. I wanted to make her damned breakfast, dole out her damned pills, do her damn hair and be able to bitch about it light-heartedly. I wanted her to have her dog, spoil my vacations, talk incessantly about birds and whether or not her Topsy Turvy tomatoes were growing…I wanted her. Here.

And now she’s not.

No one can care for her like I can, or rather, like Jamie and I could. She is bed-ridden, suffering with pressure ulcers and awaiting yet another hip surgery. The people who care for her care for her in the very best way that they can, but they are not us, her Grand-children, and I cannot reconcile this.

I feel unbearable guilt and incredible remorse. What if I had stayed home that 4th of July? Instead of selfishly going to a pool party for a few hours? Would she still be here with me? Was this avoidable? Did I forsake her for an afternoon of hot dogs and a swim?

Of course not. But it’s natural to ask. It’s normal to wonder.

She will have surgery again on Friday. We have no choice. To deny her surgery is to sign her death sentence. To sign the release for the surgery may be the same. I love her and want the best for her. I am lost in a sea of regret and remorse. I wanted her to have her last days here. Surrounded by us and everything familiar. I had dreams of holding her hand and comforting her and wishing her well as she passed. I was ready to do all of those things.

I am ready for none of these.

Things have gone terribly, terribly wrong.

Please pray for us and her and wish her well. She truly is and was, the best Grandma ever.

You Can’t Go Home Again

23 Aug

Thomas Wolfe had a portion of the sentiment right, but the fact is, one can. The truth is, one shouldn’t.

Grandma fell and broke her other hip on the 4th of July and now is in the care of those who can handle her needs, her medical needs, in a manner that I cannot. Her wheelchair sits in the kitchen in my home, her suite remains unchanged, her boxes of cereal still line the shelves of the pantry and her medicines sit on the counter, undispensed and undisposed. She exists as if a ghost or a memory.

She is fine, of course, in her new home and in her new care, but the absence of her pervades. It is palpable in its permanence and but as an apparition in her lingering non presence. The breakfast that I was loathe to make is no longer made by me, the never-ending stream of meaningless conversation has ceased, yet now has meaning.

I have come home again. She will never.

I am at her home, in Illinois, sifting through a lifetime. The sentiment of not being able to return is both true and false. I am here, in the first place that I ever was after being born. My parents left the hospital and came directly here, even bypassing their own home. The first arms into which I was passed were inside these walls.  Family had gathered. I was the first Grandchild of an only son. I was an event to gather for and around, and the gathering was here.

The house remains basically unchanged. The smell when I entered is the same one that I have known my whole life. The top stair to the kitchen still creaks in the exact way that it always has. The front door sticks, the hall closet has its own way of needing to know that whoever is opening it has opened it forever or it won’t cooperate. The water heater makes its predictable whoof when the pilot lights the flame. Each and every closet has an exposed bulb with a string pull that I can can reach and grab in light or in dark. Everything is exactly as it should be. Would I be blind, I could navigate and find and touch each and every thing I needed. Yet it is no longer home.

Grandma’s house, without Grandma, is just walls and a roof. The car port is but a place to park, not the cover of birthday parties or cookouts. The clothesline is just wire without her and her basket of sheets to hang out to dry.  The kitchen is simply a space without her cooking. The asphalt drive is just a means to an end, not the place that I learned to skate and ride my bike or a source of many a skinned knee.

The bath is just a bath. The scent of her perfume, band-aids and Bactine are but memories.

My movements are slow. The process is long. Every thing I touch has been a part of me for 44 years and everything from the spatula that she used to flip my eggs to the ornaments that hung on the tree are worthy of absorbing and remembering for one final time.  I smell them, remember them and caress them each, bless them and her and say good-bye to every last piece of her, this house and that life.

I love you Grandma. This is the hardest thing that I have ever done.

The End.

And About This….

11 Jun

Please, please, please fucking quit or at least take turns.

Totally fucking annoying. Makes watching a match about as fun as being pecked to death by chickens, ears first. Come on South Africa, we are trying here. Ease up on the death squad of pissed off wasps. Or get us all an aural Epi-Pen.

Christ, I Lost Mom Again.

11 Jun

Or reasons why I should not be your Power of Attorney.

In my family, I have always been the Chief Justice on our Supreme Court of Death decisions. Every family pet that didn’t have the good sense to die in a timely fashion has met my particular death panel of one. It isn’t easy being the Grim Reaper of the family, and apparently, like the Court, it’s a life appointment. Take today for instance.

My sister has had Mom’s cat since Mom died a dozen years ago. Sassy has, over the past 18 months, lost a considerable chunk of her sass, ass, vim and vigor. She is not a well cat. She is 15, glucose, fructose, lactose, gluten and possibly air intolerant. Jamie has done everything possible to save her, from daily insulin injections, special diet, frequent trips to the vet, to healing crystals and a pet psychic. No wait, that’s for the epileptic, bionic-legged dog. Have no doubt, every attempt at cat health has been made. Cat, much beloved. Still, not healthy.

I hate to start spouting my Quality of Life bullshit at times like these, but I tend to view every creature as if were me. Like, would I be happy to live like that? Probably the reason why I got the position in the first place. My niece, it seems, has inherited the POA/Grim Reaper authority for the next generation and I am happy to pass the torch. Boo, btw, as long as Aunt Tay Tay can remember the words to Bad Romance, please do not pull the plug. Also drink and smoke, but the presence of any one of those three things should be considered reason for life sustaining and prolonging treatment. Thanks.

Anyway, where were we? Oh, right, the cat. The court has ruled. It’s a very end (where end = sad, yet expected and natural) thing. It’s extremely easy to be swayed by emotions and attach more to the situation than what’s actually called for, which is where I, and my particular brand of death panelishness actually come in handy. One could argue that this is extremely traumatic and is like saying good-bye to Mom all over again, and that ‘one’ would be my sister. And then there’s me. To illustrate, our pending cat death conversation snippet below:

Me: Dude, if Boo is the new Grim Reaper, so do not make her POA!

Sister: Oh Hell no, man. I’m not leaving it to Bun, he’ll try and save me forever and then forget I’m still plugged in. Oh Hell to the no.

Me: Well, you know, the body is just a vessel. I wouldn’t have asked for Mom’s ashes if I had it to do over. I don’t even know where she is now. Somewhere in here lost, collecting dust. I mean, if I spilled her tomorrow I’d just vacuum her up.

Sister: You would? That’s harsh. But if you do spill Mom can I have the urn? I always thought they’d make super nice bookends…

Me: Sure. That’ll be a fun conversation when and if we meet again…”Hey Mom! I made you bookends! No really….”

Sister: You’re a sick fuck.