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February 7, 2006 / allyo

Rearranging schedules and expectations

I was settling Jamie for the night last night, trying to make sure any gas he had was given a chance to be released. I stroked his back, gently, but firmly, and hummed along with the classical music playing in the background. I felt a fleeting, almost fierce, pang of regret that he’d most likely never feel my Grandma’s touch in this way. A nurse, her hands were gentle and strong, and knew just what spots to hit, whether it be on an achy back, a furrowed brow, or a tender foot. I miss her so much, even though she’s still here.

This morning the phone rang and after answering, Jim yelled up to me to come down and take the call. It was my mom. My grandma was in the hospital with pneumonia and chest pains, although probably not a heart attack. She was to be admitted later today. My mind immediately jumped to the day’s schedule, which I had already reorganized to accomodate the funeral of a much-loved great-aunt on my dad’s side of the family. Work is just going to have to do without me today.

We take Jamie for a twice-monthly visit to my grandma’s that is becoming more and more stressful for me. Due to the winter sickies at our house last month, the last time was the first visit since Christmas Eve and neither Jamie nor my grandma were having a good day. The house was stinky with cigarette smoke, and my grandma could barely manage to shift her insignificant weight on the couch that has become her permanent home and the sum total of her world, along with the potty chair sitting next to it and the lesser-traveled path to the bathroom.

Jamie didn’t want to be in that dark, smokey, smelly cave of a house. He wanted to play with and touch things he couldn’t, and even the metal mixing bowls that are his favorite toy there didn’t distract him. My grandma was disappointed – she wants him to be "on" whenever he’s around her, and in her increasingly muddled mind has a hard time remembering that small boys, like old women, are sometimes "off."

I was fed up with the whole situation by the time we left, although there’s really no other alternative. She can’t leave the house without much pain, effort, and a wheelchair-accessible van. She deserves to see him, and I wish she could see him more, but that hour, every other week, is about all I can endure, and really, I don’t think it would be fair to expose Jamie much more often to the stale smoke that lingers in every corner of her house.

We’re due for another visit this Saturday, which was going to have to be wedged in between errands and supper club, and I had already thought ahead to what toys I could take. Plastic, probably, so the cigarette smoke could be washed off. Perhaps his small set of Pop-onz that he’s just starting to get into. I was mentally girding myself, trying in advance to manage my inevitable annoyance in order to make it a good visit for everyone. And in the back of my head, feeling a little crankly about arriving to supper club stinking like smoke.

Now I’m just hoping she’s out of the hospital by then.

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One Comment

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  1. whylime / Feb 7 2006 2:50 pm

    Get well soon, grandma. you’re so good to share your son with her. Chest pains are a typical symptom of pneumonia, and the elderly get pneumonia surprisingly easily. I hope she will be home soon, so you can pull out the pop-onz (lentil loves those) and play a little.

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