Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28, 2013

Dear Tatum,

This morning at breakfast Grandma said, "I'm gonna run up to the store and buy some ice cream." "You've got ice cream in the freezer," I said. "I know, but I want a different kind. I'm just gonna run up to the store." "How are you going to get there?" I asked. "I'll borrow you're car!" she said, which is sort of a joke, because it's her car but I've taken it over. "You can't drive," I said. "Yes, I can! Those people in charge over there told me I could drive to the grocery store!" She vaguely pointed in the direction of the French Prairie when she said this. "We've talked about this, Grandma, and you can't drive anywhere, not any more. Your reaction time is too slow and it's too dangerous. We've talked about this before, and you agreed." "Well, that's true, but I still think I could drive to the store." "You could, but it wouldn't be safe, and we don't want you to take the risk." "Well, I'm not trying to pull one over on you," she said, to which Dad chimed in, "Yeah, and I could tell a tall tale, too!"

After breakfast, she seemed to forget about the ice cream and slept the early afternoon away until people started to show up at 2:00 for the family picnic. She sat in her chair all day while family and friends converged around her, chit chatting, talking about old pictures and the like. 

After everyone left, she decided she needed to go to the store for ice cream. NOW. She went into the spare bedroom to get money from her stash. I got her wallet and showed her that there was $18 dollars in it and that was probably enough for ice cream. She agreed. After getting her shoes on she went back to the bedroom and started to put the money envelope into her pants pocket. I reminded her again of the money in her wallet, to which she replied she didn't think that was enough. We added another $20. 

On the way to get the ice cream, I asked what flavor she wanted. "I don't know," she said, "I don't remember." "No idea?" I asked. "Nope, I'll know it when I see it," she said. She reminded me where we were going. She also said, "You can come in with me if you want to, but you don't have to. You can wait in the car if you want." I told my 95 year old, shuffle when she walks, dying grandmother that I would be going into the store with her. 

At the store, she went directly to the ice cream aisle. She looked at the Umpqua, she looked at the Tillamook, and then she walked further until she was deep into the pizza section. "You've gone past the ice cream, Grandma. You're in the pizza now." She gazed at the pizza boxes. "That's pizza, Grandma, not ice cream. The ice cream's back this way." "Well dammit!" she said with some frustration. "Come back this way and I'll show you where the ice cream starts," I said. 

When we got back to the ice cream, she walked passed the Tillamook and passed the Umpqua, her two preferred local brands (local, but with artificial flavor--my concern, not hers) until she came to the Dreyers. She stared into the case. "Do you remember which flavor you wanted?" I asked. "No," she said, "I'm just looking." "Can I get some out of the case for you?" "I guess I'll take a chocolate and a vanilla." "We already have vanilla at home, are you sure you want more?" "Yes," she said, and that's when I noticed it. The sale tags on the Dreyer's ice cream. "Did you want to come and get ice cream because you saw it on sale in the paper?" "Yes," she said, and then it all made sense. The veil was lifted and her somewhat odd behavior explained. Why she couldn't just tell me there was a sale on ice cream I will never understand. 

I pointed out that Tillamook was also on sale--the sale sticker was just up too high for her to see it. We put the Dreyer's back and she chose Marionberry Pie and Vanilla.



Three Small Things

Dear Tatum,

1. After Grandma and I got home from our visit with Dr. Zawada last week, my step-dad sent me a text with a picture of my mother's grave that had just been put in place. It was a little overwhelming to receive this on the same day of Grandma's diagnosis. 

2. My mom was considering traveling from North Dakota to go to her 20th high school reunion next weekend in Vernonia. It's the same weekend as the Jamboree I was hoping to take Grandma to. I loved the Jamboree as a kid--especially the swings that went in a circle. I may stop by to say hello to these strangers she went to high school with. I may not. I may. I'm not sure what the purpose would be.

3. When dad came down for the first time after hearing Grandma's diagnosis, he walked into the house and asked her, "How are you?" Grandma said, "Okay." Dad sat down and turned on the TV. You know how some people think I'm emotionally disengaged? I offer Exhibit A. 

That's all for now.



Remember the Man From Walgreen's?

Greetings Gin,

It was delightful to find you skipping through the Library halls today. I
hoped somehow you might surface in the waves of serendipity one more time.
Vermont is so lucky to host your incandescent self, and you Grandma is indeed
blessed to have you.

I am glad that you may stay a little longer in Woodburn, - maybe you would
have time for a coffee with me, although I know you are diligently looking
after Grandma. My phone is (***) *** ****.

This Sunday I am preaching at Christ Lutheran Church in Aurora, just down the
road - on the gospel text of Mary and Martha, while Pastor Craig is
inexplicably cycling down to Northern California with two other pastors on the
lam from their congregations.

Who would you say that you identify with more, Mary or Martha?

Yours most sincerely and with joy for having seen you again!