Well, I’m getting ready to go back to work. It was a hellish week, with the head being taken over by very mean demons.
I couldn’t lift my head. Which means I was very debilitated. I spent a portion of the week contemplating that debilitation could be forever, and what would it be like if I were in pain and incapacitated for the rest of my life.
There are some sorts of sickness that do that to you. Not a cold…I think most people feel confident that a cold will pass. Vomiting, flu symptoms–I usually feel like I can hunker down and just wait and it will be gone.
But this time, I kinda wondered. What kind of person I would have to be to live with this kind of disability? What kind of people would I have to rely on if it were more permanent?
But it passed and I was eventually able to get up and do the dishes.
Chris’s grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday this weekend.
She is perfectly healthy, with the exception of her hearing. But she drives her Nissan maxima to bingo and watches the interest rates carefully.
But when you are 90, a lot of your friends might not be so lucky. She told me a lot of stories about friends who had trouble with their health and had died. Betty, one of her oldest friends, is losing her sight and is moving North to be near her daughter.
“Her granddaughter comes every day and cooks for her, so she can just microwave what she needs. But her granddaughter had several kids of her own, and it’s not good to rely on a granddaughter. It’s better to be near her daughter. That’s closer.”
Grandmother Ruth has a keen eye for merits and potential weaknesses for the caretakers of her friends. It is precarious to be so dependent. But this granddaughter comes every day to take care of Betty.
“She must be a very nice lady, for her granddaughter to come every day.”
Ruth’s face softened. “She is. She’s a very nice lady. I’ve known her since 72…or maybe 73…”
When I told Chris about this later, he said, “I would go every day to take care of my grandmother.” He was defending the honor of grandchildren everywhere.
And I know he would. Grandmother Ruth is also a very nice lady. She shuffles a mean deck of cards.
But as Grandmother had finished her story of how all the people she used to know in the trailer park were mostly dead, and was on about one of them in particular who had cared for her blind husband for 25 or 35 years…
“She did everything for him. Toward the end she had to get a man to come in and help him in the bath and things like that…But he died…a long time ago…and then she died too”
I was caught on the idea of a wife caring for her husband, doing everything for him for that long. I would not want to be like that husband, to be so dependent. The story was so stark, dramatic and tragic.
But then I thought, many their love was strong and sweet. Maybe they were peaceful and happy, even with that trouble. And maybe she was bereft without him, even though he was a burden.
Grandma Ruth is 90. She has a lot to think about, with all her friends and her own life. Heavy stuff. Everyone else was gone in the kitchen–I don’t think they would want her to go on about these sad things. Maybe that’s why she talks to me about it.
I interrupted her. . “You know, life–even though it can be hard, with health problems and losing sight and loved ones–life is good. It is sweet. People hang on and make it through all those hard times, and life is good.”
She answered very quickly, “Yes, life is good.”