Thursday, April 24, 2008

A ball of goo

I don't know what it is about this week. I have been an emotional ball of goo. I have cried at the drop of a hat, buckets, sobbing, little sniffles, even random tears. Sure, there is a lot on my plate...a lot of changes, but I am a little taken aback by it all. Maybe this is where is all started...

There was a great article in the paper on Sunday about a couple who has been married for 66 years (66 years!). The wife has been caring for her husband for the past 10 years because he has Alzheimer's. A few years ago, it was required that he be moved into a facility. Despite this, she spends 10-12 hours each day at his side taking care of his every need. She is there to dress him, feed him, take him to the bathroom, give him sips of water, but most importantly, she is there to hold his hand. That is their thing - hand holding. According to her, that is what they have always done. Last week, they renewed their vows at the care facility. Arranged by the staff there, they had a minister and even a small reception. It seemed that for a brief moment, her husband responded and smiled with a little yeah when asked if he would take his wife forever. The tears were plenty. I know, I was there. The story was about my grandparents.

Only a week later, my grandfather sits in ICU. His heart is getting weaker, prostate cancer has invaded his kidneys and the Alzheimer's progressing. I went to visit last night and as I walked into his room, there was my grandmother, doing what she has done for the past 66 years. She was sitting beside him holding his hand. My grandfather was asleep with the occasional moan or snore.

I sat down and we talked. I have, ashamedly, discounted the actions of my grandmother as a sign of weakness. Her lack of "a life", her incessant dedication to my grandfather, her inability to make long-term decisions regarding his care all seemed to be a deficiency in her mental capacity to accept reality and to strike a healthy balance. Her drive to keep him alive each and every day seemed to be a waste of the time God has given her on this earth. Shame on me.

What I learned from her was really one of God's lessons to us all. It was a lesson that God showed me many times in my journey with Ansley. I have followed this lesson for short periods of time and then my old always-be-prepared, controlling self would start creeping back in again. It is simple and it is her motto. "I just take it one day at a time," she says matter of factly. She doesn't think about the what ifs, the possibilities, or what the future holds. She simply waits for the situation to change before she processes it. Admittedly, she says she can't go there and she doesn't. She just loves my grandfather for what he is today.

My grandmother believes as I do, that God is completely in control and the he will take care of this entire situation - my grandfather's health, her health, his care, even my grandmother's grief when her companion of 66 years is gone. But she has successfully managed to work it out into her daily life. I have not.


Under the Raisner Roof... said...

Kelsey, a beautiful picture of what our lives should be like with our husbands. What a gift for you to be able to see what your grandmother is doing! Don't fault yourself...she has had years of experience to learn all this. The most honorable thing you can do for her is take her example and live it. Same with Gil and Marion. Was the same for my grandparents too. Love, Amy

HIllbilly Rockin' Robin said...

How precious!! I'll be praying for them! My grandmother has changed so much since my grandfather died. I admire your grandmother so much for staying by his side. A beautiful picture of true unselfish love.