Sunday, August 26, 2012

Life can settle down a bit now

As summer draws to a close, I'd like to tell life to slow down a little bit. We've had a rather ..odd summer.
Jax had his stitches at the water park
Then there was the whole benedryl incident
Then we had ear infections (both boys and myself)
The odd summer colds(the boys)
Then Bella broke her wrist
The funeral...
Everything seemed to happen too quickly. I know there were more things in there. And I remember thinking "can we please go ONE WEEK without a visit to the doctors or urgent care?"
and then we didn't. I joked with the urgent care staff about frequent flyer miles or perhaps having a punch card, after so many visits, its free...

It was an unusually hot and dry summer. We had temperatures over 100 and heat advisories. I remember when we were on our mini vaca at the water park, the ground was SO HOT, that you had to wear shoes in between things. Wisconsin was part of the drought. We went many days without rain and our grass around here was dry and brown. I was relieved to see rain and that brought(after some time) our grass green again.

We did alot of swimming, playing outside, smores, fireworks(before the no burning ban), had many park days, saw alot of grandma and grandpa, on both sides, did alot of crafts, played some video games(as my boys are mario crazy) and just did lazy summer things.

As our summer draws to a close, I never thought I'd be burying my yaya. Grandma yaya got her name from my oldest. I did some single parenting stuff for a while. I worked two jobs. My parents would watch my oldest while I was at work. I worked second shift, so they brought him back to my place, and my grandma would take over, bathe him and play with him and put him to bed. He was 1 at the time, and they adored eachother. She may have been in her 80's but let me tell you, she was quick and agile and they definately were attatched to eachother. She sang to him in german and I swore up and down he spoke german the first two years because none of us could understand him. I'd come home from my second shift job and my place would be spotless, laundry done and grandma yaya and I would watch golden girls and chit chat like a bunch of teens. She never really slept much, so she'd spend the night frequently as I worked on call for the ambulance, she'd be up by like 3 am , watching tv, doing more laundry and I'd get up often and chit chat with her. Even when I wasn't working for the ambulance, she'd come up, and spend the night. We'd cook together, make new things, go for walks, and just talk. We'd go for drives, and she loved spending time with my oldest. When the weather was stormy or even predicting storms, Yaya and I were both so scared of them. She'd come over and we'd watch the weather channel and get a bag for Jace ready to go incase the tornado sirens went off, then we'd drive down the block to my mom's house. If she wasn't at my house when the sirens went off, I"d pack Jace up, drive down to her apt, and pick her up. I"ll NEVER forget the time I picked her up, sirens a-blarin, and its her and two old lady friends of hers trying to get into my car, and they're older so they're slower and I"m like "Grandma! if this were life or death, we'd all die" and we were cracking up. What was even funnier? When we arrived at my parents house with 3 little old ladies, Jace and I. The look on my mom's face...LOL.

My grandmother was also a lady who never put herself first. I remember growing up, she took care of my grandfather. He died about 20 years ago, but he was diabetic, had a few heart attacks and she took care of him until the day he died. Then her sister, the oldest of 6 kids, came to live with her. My grandmother and her sister Ella, spoke german when they were together and didn't want us kids to catch on what they were saying. They'd speak it in the car, in the house, wherever, as long as something needed to be said that us kids shouldn't hear. Her sister fell and broke her hip and went into a nursing home, because my grandmother ended up sick herself and had some work done on her heart. Even with her sister in the nursing home, she still was there daily, if not more than once a day. She washed her clothes, took her things, answered her billion of phone calls. And on top of that, She would visit the cemetary daily as well. She also drove us kids around, or came to the rescue if we forgot something or needed something or were sick. She just always put others first. That was how she was.

When I had Jace, my oldest, it was like immediate that those two were joined, almost at the heart. For 80 years young, she sure took great care of him. She raised 4 kids of her own had plenty of us grandchildren and loved keeping busy. I remember, every time she came over, she brought something for Jace. Whether it be things like coco krispies(her favorite) or Swiss Miss pudding(also her favorite) , she never came empty handed. I grew up very close to my grandmother, as did alot of us grandkids. We lived for the days to sleep over at grandmas, she let us put her hair in rollers and do her make up and let us play dress up with her clothes. We watched shows like "the Stattler brothers" and "lawerence Welk" and I remember she'd watch "beavis and butthead" with us. The next morning, she'd make a big breakfast and we'd hang out there much of the day. If we could get away with more time there, we would.

Yaya was completely independent until about 2 years ago. She lived on her own, drove her own car, and still did her daily phone calls to everyone to see what we were up to, where we were going, how work was, what the kids were doing. She had this habit of calling everyone every day. If she couldn't find one of us, like my mom, she'd call me and say "where's your mom, I can't find her" and if I didnt find my mother, she'd get in her car to drive around. Even if my mom had just missed the phone call. We developed a system that if one of us were going somewhere, we'd "check in"..I'd call her and say "grandma, I'm going ___________" and tell her that I would call her apon getting back home. And she'd do the same thing "now don't worry, I"m going with the girls to the foot doctor, then lunch, but I"ll call when I get home".. ok. As a whole family we did this. There were a few times we'd forget of course, her included and we'd basically be banging down her door, afraid we'd find her laying dead somewhere in her apartment. Even when she didn't drive so much anymore, she'd call me several times a day. We lived close, so I'd take the kids over. We'd still go places.

When her memory started to go, she'd call and it would be quite funny and cute because I guess only I ask a nurse, spending many years in the nursing home, can appreciate the humor inside the dementia like this. My one director called it "therapeutic fibbing"..or you'd play along, instead of doing the obvious redirecting them and most times embarrasing who you're working with. She call and say "who is this? why did you call me" and I"d say "oh its me yaya, I called because I wanted to know if you made cupcakes today" even though she'd call me. Or she'd call when I was at work and talk with my husband, and I had to teach him to kinda go with it, and play along. He learned to chat with her and put her at ease incase she thought she couldn't find one of us, and if it ever got bad, he'd call me at work and tell me "yaya needs your help" and I'd stop what I was doing at work, and give her a call. She continued to loose her memory, not always remembering our names, but our faces were remembered. She made up nicknames for many of us. She had to stop living on her own because it was becoming a saftey risk. During storms, instead of calling me, she'd pace the hallways and try to find someone to comfort her, and she'd leave the stove on and things like that. So she moved out with my aunt for a while. Even during those days, she'd call. And she'd whisper funny things into the telephone, how she was being held hostage or something just as cute, or tell me "I have lots of money" and want us to come pick her and her money up. About a year ago, she broke her hip one morning at my aunts house and from there, went into a nursing home. By then her dementia had really advanced. She was upset knowing the nursing home wasn't "home" but she couldn't really figure out where she was. We'd remind her, visit her constantly, it was like the tables were turned. We'd visit her like she used to visit us. We'd walk around the nursing home (or she was pushed in her wheel chair, in her case) . The girls at the nursing home took great care of her, kinda taking her under their wing and watching closely over them, as I knew alot of girls there. During her decline in her dementia, she went from this quiet little lady who never got mad, to this rowdy 80 lb woman who you'd better not dare mess with. She kept the girls on their toes, , she was quick in that wheel chair, she was always eating other peoples snacks, like the workers snacks, and they'd let her They polished her nails, and let her "fold laundry" and entertained her,when like usual, she'd be up half the night. I'd bring them candy treats that were kept in her room as a special thank you for working so hard and for loving her the way I did. There were some girls who took a special liking to her and I'd get reports on her ,and I always was very comforted knowing she was in great hands. Even if she was really rowdy and someone would call me, I'd go down and see her bellering at some of the staff and trying to get out of her wheel chair and we would all just crack up because she was a whole 80 lbs and she truly believed she was in charge. We'd often get her settled back in and I'd tuck her into bed after putting her PJ's on...and I knew her sleep wouldn't last long because thats how she was wired. When she really started to slip at the end, they gave her a baby to hold onto, and some clothes to change her and undress her and redress her. I've found this very common in women with dementia who took care of their children. Holding a fake baby causes some huge relief in them. Of course, we all thought SHE believed it was real...until she told her daughter one day "you know that thing isn't real right?" lol. She didnt want to hurt my other aunts feelings who was holding it for her, nor did she want to hurt anyone else's feelings .

She passed rather quickly. Last Tuesday I recieved a call from my mom saying that my aunt had called HER and let her know the nursing home called and she had taken a turn for the worse. I rushed to be with her, and spent much of the day there. We were all there throughout the day, crying, joking, laughing, remembering things about her. She spent so much time taking care of us and others, that she was still very restless in her bed . Her legs kept going and going. At one point we believed she was going to hop right out of that bed. She was put on hospice and further went downhill as the day went on. I left here and there to tend to my family. I was home the last time for not even an hour, and she passed.

I miss her. I miss her more than words can even express. I feel like I spent such a great deal of time with her when it was Jace and I. She was the kind of person who didn't see flaws in people, she just loved you for who you were. She never said a harsh word about anyone. Even if I had a bad day, I'd come home to her at the end of it and she'd fix a snack and we'd turn on the golden girls and Yaya would fall asleep and I'd scold her and she'd always say "I"m just resting my eyes, I can still hear it"... or if the place was a mess she'd say "this isn't messy, my mother always said toys were not a mess"... or she'd always say something nice, about what you were wearing or your hair or something..just that little extra pick me up. When I went through a hard time in my life and did that whole single parenting thing for a while, she'd let me be mad about it, let me vent about it, and then we'd gab like a bunch of women on a "why men suck" type She never let you stay sad for long. She didn't like to see anyone upset or cry, and she had such an outstanding sense of devotion to her family. And my friends would stop over, and as my friends always did, accepted Yaya as part of me. It didn't matter what time it was , or what day it was , or who was home. They'd come in, they didn't have to knock or ring the door bell. My door was always open. ...yaya there or not. If she wasn't there, they'd question where Yaya was. She was just a part of our every day life. She accepted my friends as part of her own group. She cared about them , asked after them, and joined us in our conversations, no matter what they were. So many people referred to her as "grandma yaya" I don't think she truly understood the people she reached. I believe her love for life showed and her love for everyone showed and thats why people just reached out right back to her. She'd ask me "well who wants to hang out with an 80 year old lady"..and we'd all say "oh grandma, we do of course!" becasue it was true.

I think part of me grieved when she went into the nursing home and her dementia took her. I grieved for that part of her that was almost..missing. I know and understand dementia and alzheimers. when I was 17 I became a certified nursing assistant and then went onto be a nurse. So I understand the progression. But I lost that person a long time ago. I never ever loved her less. I never treated her differently. When I visited, I talked to her like I usually would. I rambled on and on about things she used to ask about. She didn't remember my name, but I knew in her eyes, my face was familar. When others would visit, sometimes they didn't know what to say, or what to talk about. Even the day she was dying, as she laid there, no one spoke alot TO her..I did. I didn't care if I looked or sounded foolish. I accepted all this as normal and wanted to carry on as it should be. I believe hearing is the last thing to go, that at least if she could hear we were there, it was some comfort knowing the people who loved her the most were surrounding her when she needed us.

She will always hold a special place in my heart. I think she was one of the best people I ever knew. If I could have one day with her, I'd go back to when Jace was small, and we'd sit out in our lawn chairs , with my neighbor and just chat..catch up.... laugh... but I know shes in a better place. And she'd want us to carry on, to pick up and move about life like she did. But theres a pretty big void here lady, I just wanted you to know that. And every time I hear about the Golden Girls, I think of you. And every time the Andy Griffith tune comes on, I think of you and how Jace used to sing that before he could even every time the phone rings, I always still wonder if its you calling, but its not.

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