Monday, August 12, 2013

This is Your House Now

Dear Tatum,

We had company a few nights ago. First it was Vick and Millie over for their usual 7:00-8:00, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune time slot. Then it was Michigan, Van, and Slip arriving with armloads of food for dinner and beyond. It was an enjoyable evening; we ate on the back porch and had lemon bars for dessert. 

When everyone had gone, Grandma and I settled into our chairs. After Grandma had been asleep in hers for a while I suggested she go to bed. Her response: I wonder how the dishwasher's doing? Mine: It's doing just fine, I've been taking care of the dishes. Grandma: Well I want to go see. Me: Okay, let's go take a look.

On the way to the kitchen she made a small side trip to the sliding glass door and started poking at the screen. "What are you doing?" I asked. "Just seeing if it's closed," she answered. "Yes, Grandma, I always keep it closed, you know that."

In the kitchen, she opened the fridge. "Grandma, what are you doing?" No reply. She reached in and precariously took out the yogurt (artificially flavored strawberry)from the back. Once she took that out, she reached for the second, unopened container of yogurt. I stopped her and told her she didn't need the second container. At this point she snapped with, "You don't want me in the kitchen! This is your house now. Fine, you can have it!" I said, "No, Grandma, this is your house, I'm just taking care of things for you, and right now I can't figure out what you're doing because I thought you were coming to look at the dishwasher. But I can see you want some yogurt, so why don't you go ahead and have some." She said, "You don't want me in the garden, you don't want me in the kitchen; it's not my house anymore." She took in the sight of the kitchen with boxes of fresh fruit--cantaloupes, watermelons, peaches, and plums--covering the counters. I could see why she didn't recognize it as hers. She ate her yogurt out of the container.

I said, "Grandma, I can understand how you feel this way. I know you're used to living on your own and doing everything, but it's not an option anymore. I'm here to help you." She said, "I just want to be a part of things." I told her, "You are part of things; you're the center of everything. You are why everyone was here. Vick and Millie were here because of you, Michigan and Van and Slip were here because of you. I'm here because of you. You're a part of everything." "Well, I don't understand what happened." "What do you mean?" "Well, Vick and Millie were here, sitting in their spots on the sofa all comfortable, and we were all having a good time. Then Michigan and Van and Slip came and Vick and Millie left. Why'd they come and make them leave?" "Vick and Millie were already leaving, Grandma; they do the same thing every night. Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune were over. They'd already said they were on their way home. Michigan came and gave them a bunch of food to take home with them. Vick and Millie were happy when they left. It was okay." "Oh, well I didn't realize that. Can I go to bed now?" "Do you want to look in the dishwasher?" She looks in the dishwasher with approval. "Now can I go to bed?" "Yes, Grandma, you can go to bed whenever you want."



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