Sunday morning we packed up the car and headed to about an hour west to visit my grandma and hang out at my aunt's house nearby. Last year my grandma, although confused and tired, was able to leave her assisted living facility and hang out at the house with all of us for an afternoon. This year that wasn't so much the case. Now my grandma lives in a nursing home. As a designer I think the space could be greatly improved, but the real draw of this places is that my aunt works in the same health complex and can drop in on her regularly. Seriously, how lucky are we? How many families have that luxury?
The rest of my dad's family lives closer and sees Grandma more often. They warn us, "It's really bad. Like really bad. Just be ready for it." They do a wonderful job managing my expectations because I felt like for 89 with dementia, my grandma seems way less "Is that person still breathing?" than most of the people I've seen in the two facilities she's been in. She can still kind of hobble her way through a conversation. She relies a lot on reacting sarcastically or playfully saying something like "oh phooey" to the stuff we tell her. She also likes to be silly, like hen we told her to smile and she crossed her eyes and made a silly face instead. She spent the better part of our visit asking us how we were all able to get off of work and did we all come there just to see her?? It's quite confusing to her because apparently her work schedule is pretty inflexible and she has to work weekends a lot. Her mind spends a lot of time back working as a nurse. Whatever, we roll with it.
Perhaps my favorite moment of the entire trip was seeing her light up when my dad walked in while she said to him with a big smile "hey, there's my son!" I suspect that within minutes of us leaving she forgot we were even there, but for the time we were there she seemed happy and even touched by the idea that we all came just to see her.
Sunday afternoon we did more visiting with family. I got to play with my cousin's son who is six and wildly imaginative. I cracked up when he said things like , "Mommy, can I have a pretend blanket to tuck in Monkey?" and (to my mom) "And you know what? I love you." We did lots of "exercising" and I'm pretty sure my mom caught many lovely photos of me crawling around on the floor.
Monday morning we packed up and, after dealing with a pretty major train delay with my sister, headed back to VA.