When I came out with my new-ish tablet on Monday, Sada asks me where/how I got it. I explained to her that it was a gift my father gave me as a sign of gratitude. At the time, I was sans-tablet after a fiasco with rolling over on my dearly departed TMax. Knowing how much I liked that one, my dad decided to sprinkle some kindness and gratitude seeds on yours truly last year. He said to me “because you’ve been so great with your grandmother, you can get another tablet.”
So, I went to Sam’s Club with him and tried not to break the bank. I’m spoiled, yes, but I also have a good head on my shoulders. I know not to push all the buttons in the elevator car. I explained to Sada that it was a gift for taking care of my grandmother and being there for her. This, of course, went over her head. “That doesn’t sound like a good reason,” she said. Commenting that the gift made no sense. What was so difficult about my grandmother that warranted a gift?
Believe me, the musings of a 15 year-old child boiled no potato in my near-thirty pot. I knew she was looking on the outside in. She hasn’t spent extended amounts of time with my grandmother to understand our journey. Instead of explaining it to an uninterested child, I decided to wait and reflect on it here.
First and foremost, I don’t need a gift to return the love and care my grandmother gave to me. She became mother when I lost my very own. She put up with a lot of crap my crazy self did as a child. I said and did a lot of stupid things, but she held on to me. She licked the wounds of time with my step-mother, and gave me a semester of education when funds were low. She always had a room and a meal for me. She always had a smile, a hug, and a kind word. She sewed for me, cleaned for me, and pretty much decided to take me in when she did not.
So, once she started showing signs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s around her early 70’s, things began to change. Her frustrations and sadness made her a different person for a while. It shook things up as we had to learn (as a family) how to navigate. My father worked hard to find her help. He worked with his sister in TN to talk things out. We adjusted for her like she adjusted her life for us. It was always a selfless effort. It was all for love.
Grandma is not an invalid. She is not “out of her mind”, either. It boils down to two things–how she interprets things, and how her memory is. Her personality is fine. She has a hobby, she has rituals. (She also insists on sweeping all the time, which is sooo bad for her back!) We adjust for her comfort. That’s all it is. The gift–that was something extra. Without it, I would still be doing all I do for her in the Summer. I would still be cooking for her and turning to Jazz stations so she can sew. I would still do her hair, laugh with her, drink all the wine, and badmouth crappy singers on TV.
To be honest, I did feel bad for a few seconds. Then I realized Ms. Sada had no idea what I’d been through. Her concerns were still in the land of clothes, boys, “situations”, and pop culture. Discussing mature ideas with a smart ass (she gets in trouble for her mouth all the time!) would be like trying to control the ebb and flow of the sea with my two fists. Besides, her relationship with her own grandmother is unfortunately rocky. Maybe she doesn’t “get” it because she’s never been in that situation before.
Not ever family relationship is a good one. I feel so blessed to have a grandmother who loved me heart and soul. Which is why I don’t mind doing anything she asks. I might be a little grouchy or tired sometimes, but I still get off my behind and try to fix her problems to the best of my ability. If she itches, I scratch. If she needs to “find the clicker”, I find the dang clicker. If she wants to heat up her lunch, it’s done. There are no conditions–if Ellen Amelia wants it, Ellen Amelia gets it.
My gift was a token of thanks that will last in this lifetime. What my grandmother and I share will burn bright. It’s an eternal flame of family love that will never die out. I know, it sounds so cliche and sticky-tacky, but it’s how I feel. She was freshly retired, and could have done anything in this entire world. She decided to take care of me. No questions asked. I was hers. So, it makes perfect sense why I got the gift. Thanks for giving my all, for caring, for “putting up with those moments”.
Besides–I can show her clear pictures of cats and birds when she’s here. She LOVES looking at pets on Instagram. 😉