I'm writing this from a pale yellow room inside a rehab facility in Cartersville, Georgia. It's been just over two years since I was last here with my granddad, and now I'm back again, visiting him.
Granddad has had several strokes over the past few years, and almost two weeks ago he had a series of seizures. He spent a week in the hospital and was released to the rehab facility this past Tuesday. I talked to my mom on the phone Tuesday night, and made the decision to fly to see him on Wednesday.
I'll be honest: I was terrified of this trip. The last time I saw him, things were hard. I mean, really, really hard. I hadn't seen Granddad since that last trip, and I was scared to see him again two days ago.
But this trip has been wonderful.
Yes, it's hard — Granddad suffers from depression and dementia, and he's physically very weak. But we're pushing him to work hard and get better so he can move into his assisted living facility. That means he's got to stay out of bed and in his wheelchair as much as possible. I'm having to use a lot of nanny tactics to distract/bribe/entice him to stay in his wheelchair :)
It's surreal, but also really lovely being here to take care of my granddad. My mom's been here too (she left today) and it's been really nice having the three of us together. Granddad has a great roommate, too — a 93-year-old man named Nick with Alzheimer's who's here getting rehab from a hip replacement surgery. Nick has the most wonderful smile, even when he's confused. It's been a delight being here with them.
I haven't written about it for work reasons, but there are a LOT of changes that have gone on/are going on in my life right now. On August 1st, Cait and I are moving into the first floor of a small house in New Haven. She'll be starting Yale, and I'll be taking pre-reqs for nursing school at a community college nearby. I gave my notice with Clara's family in mid-June, and left at the beginning of July. Then Cait and I went down to Texas for 10 days, then back to Boston, then drove up to upstate New York to see Cait's parents for the rest of July. That's where I was when I flew down to see Granddad.
So it's been a whirlwind. Lots of changes, lots of good things, lots of scary things. I can't even begin to think about what it'll be like leaving Boston, which has been my home for the past four years. But that's all for another post.
What I want to write about for now, just so that I have the record of it to look back on some day, is how grateful I am to be here with Granddad (and his roommate Nick). It's not easy. But, and this may sound strange, I truly love being here to be in a care-taking role. While I'm here, I'm Granddad's advocate, his friend, his poker playing buddy, and his companion. I'm grateful I spent the past several years nannying for small children, because I have so much more patience now than I did when I visited Granddad two years ago. When you talk to him, sometimes it takes 10 or 20 or 30 seconds for him to get the words processed to reply to you. But that's okay. When he's here and present and lucid, I love hearing what he has to say. He's still got his wry sense of humor.
I need to go for now, but I'll write more later. Granddad's coming back from his lunch now, and I need to get him settled for an afternoon nap. And while I'm at it, I need to give him a big hug, because he's an amazing granddad.