My niece Megan lives in Atlanta. Like many young professionals, she doesn’t have many opportunities to come to Clarkesville because of her busy life. Today she was able to visit for the first time since the end of May. I asked if she would write a Mondays with Mom. Here are her thoughts:
Since I’m only able to visit every couple of months, the changes in Grandmama are striking. She’s still in there, fierce and bright, but her body seems to be a little more diminished each time I see her. Today she was in a very good mood and commented on my knit hat several times. She said it should be pretty easy for me to make one. Perhaps if I had any knitting experience! Haha.
Donna told me about doll therapy as I came into the house. What a great idea! I said hi to Grandmama and she asked the baby doll Casey who I was, which seemed like a clever way to ask my name indirectly. We talked about what a good, beautiful baby he is. Donna says that it’s like a snapshot into the past: this is exactly how she was with each of us when we were babies. It’s very sweet to watch and know that part of her has stayed the same – the gentle talking, the singing, the obvious love and care she lavishes on this baby. She treasured each of us in turn, and now she has the chance to show that nurturing side of her again.
She has laughed often today; many small things have amused her. It’s a good reminder to cherish the simple but precious little moments of joy in every day happenings. I find it easy to roll with whatever Grandmama says, no matter how strange. I remember what she was like before, and I think because I have more distance from the situation than the rest of my family, it’s easier for me to accept this is essentially a different person and that Grandmama is gone. I wonder if I have built a bit of a wall to protect my heart, however. I haven’t been here for the hard times, so I’m only glimpsing a narrow window into how her life is now. I can’t imagine what it’s like to see the person you’ve known so intimately for your entire life gradually disappear in front of you.
After her bath I was able to watch the treatment for her arm, and that was pretty neat. I met Michelle and Laverne, and I heard about other members of the village that is caring for Grandmama. There are so many wonderful people with such big hearts, and I am grateful for them. I took care of Oma, my dad’s mom, for a year in 2014 until she passed away, and I am still awestruck by the gentle compassion the hospice team showed to our family in the last week of her life. I’m glad Donna and my grandparents have such a strong network of people to help. Caregiving can be very lonely and isolating. It’s easy to feel as though no one understands what you’re going through. One of the blessings in going through something so hard, though, is all of the wonderful people you meet during the journey.
I’m so grateful to have family. I’m grateful for the friends who are like family around us, too. It really is a blessing to have both.