24 Aug 2010

"Well Poopsie, Ya got em".

Grandma & Poppie, 5 years ago at a "ho down" ;)

We're back from visiting family back home (Kansas) and starting to get back into the swing of things. I'm finally caught up on orders, now for the custom requests. (I received over 160 different requests for stamps while I was away.) Yikes. I have some work ahead of me!

We on a rather unplanned, last minute trip because my Grandma isn't doing very well.
She's had dementia now for quite a few years, but it's gotten really bad, really fast, and I wanted to see her again while she still remembers who I am.

Talking to Grandma has always taken a bit of training and guesswork,  for quite a few years, because she talks in so much slang and abbreviations that you have to guess at what she's saying.

For example, years ago, she'd ask me to get something from the pantry. (in their mud room.) I'd ask where it was.
 "just reach round' the corner and on that dodad. There ya be!" Little things like that. And these got even worse as her dementia has gotten worse.

She did remember me to some degree, but couldn't remember more recent things, like who my children were, or how many I even have. She'd ask me every 10 minutes if if any of the kids in the room were mine. How old were they? Were they boys or girls?

 I'd say "I have two boys, Grandma, they're right over there, the bouncy blond ones."
"oh, well I like that, that's just dandy", she'd say. "Now tell me, ya got me any more?"
"no Grandma, just the two".
"hm. Well that just won't do. I just, you know.."
 (she'd make a lot of hand movements at this point trying to find her words)
"i like a lot of em'. Cause ya know, when somethin' happens, well poopsie, ya got em' ."

 (Translation: If something should happen anyone in your family, you have a lot of other people to lean on. Now that she's older and is facing this really scary condition, she still has her eight children. If something should happen to one of her children, they still have other brothers and sisters to lean on.)

Then she pat my leg and said "well, hm. Yup!" and it was gone.
This was one of many short little conversations we had.

Another was about my skirt. She didn't like my skirt one bit. Well, she did. But the problem was, she thought it was an apron, and she thought it was odd that I was wearing it out of the house. (which I actually have done a few times, but that's besides the point.)

I had just arrived and she came slowly towards me and took off my sunglasses, and slowly realised who I was. She then pulled me over to two chairs and sat me in one, directly facing her, as though she were going to interview me. And that's exactly what she did.
First she said, pointing to my eyes, and then hers "you and me both, ya know?" (we both have blue eyes.) Then she slapped her leg and said "garsh darnit". She had lost her words again, and looked around helplessly, wringing her hands together.

Then she started tugging on my skirt and said "now tell me 'bout this. Why d'ya 'spose this happened? Is this somethin' the girls go for up there?" (I was surprised that she remembered that I'm in Canada now, actually.)
I said "oh, I don't know grandma. It's just a skirt. I guess it's a little colorful. I made it.."
She put her finger on her chin and raised an eyebrow and said
 "well, my mother, she used to...you know".
"Momo had a lot of aprons, didn't she?"
"yeah! all kinds. you know. I was just too hot, liked to be outside." (translation: She would have rather been outside on her tractor than inside, wearing an apron and cooking. Although, she did do a lot of that as well. Most of her favorite stories to tell are about when she and her cousin, "Arlie" were out on the tractor.)
"but this", she said, grabbing the edge of my skirt again, "so indoorsie. Not for church". (we weren't at church..but I didn't say anything about that!)

Then she looked at my nose ring (the tiniest stud ever, I swear!) and told me that I had a "boogie" and needed to "go get that fixed." Then she motioned to my Grandpa, pretended to use a cattle tagging gun in my nose, and laughed. He had a little chuckle over that too.

Poor Grandpa, I can't imagine how this would be for him. This was a good day too.
She has days where she's much more miserable, and won't take her medication, or wear her air cast (she has a badly sprained ankle and hobbles everywhere, but won't wear her air cast long enough to let it heal.)

She also thinks that doctors, medicine and air conditioning are the devil.
If we ever talk about medicine, vitamins, chiropractors or massage therapy in her presence, she starts humming this and making "jazz hands" and says "yeah, hokey pokey".
Translation: "it's hogwash. I never needed anything other than sunshine and pond water."

(which is also hogwash, Medicine really could have helped her, had she been on it a long time ago when she first started showing signs of dementia, but she would refuse to go to a doctor.)
She's also diabetic, so add that into the mix and Grandpa has a lot to deal with. Thank goodness one of my aunts is able to be there a lot with her, and help out, give him a little bit of relief.

I feel so bad that I can't be there more, I'm just so far away. Visiting always leaves me feeling a little easier in one sense, since I finally got to see everyone, but homesick too.

I just miss them all so much.


  1. That is so hard. Sounds a lot like my grandpa who's dealing with it too. I really miss talking to the real him! I'm glad she had some good moments with you!

  2. Goodness. What a sweet but sad post. Thanks for sharing. It reminds me of my Grandma who has a hard time remembering who I am when I go and visit.
    I am sorry for you that you are homesick. Ugg. I know that feeling.

  3. My gracious, I am fighting tears! The story of your grandparents is so touching. Reminds me of my parents before they passed on, and anyone, really, who has ever experienced dementia. I have a soft spot for the aged. Seems life was so hard for most of them, and then when they meet such difficulties as dementia, it's even worse. God bless you, Poopsie!

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