Thursday, December 4, 2014

Life with Grampie

It's Thursday. We're still in the middle of a very steep learning curve of life with Grampie. There's just so much to learn about caring for this man who is in his ninetieth decade.
But we're making our way.

Here's a bit of a picture gallery of the first week.

Saturday Grampie held his favorite picture of his four children, watching the Oregon Ducks put a whooping on their cross-state rivals (the Beavers). When I asked him why he was holding it the way he was, he said, "I want them to watch with me."

Grampie's appetite has been hit and miss. I can't figure him out. He used to have such a huge appetite and made sure our kids were 'clean-platers', too. But these days, he refuses after about a bite, or just plain won't eat at all. Sigh. I feel like I'm the mother of a 6'8" baby and I'm trying to get to know him. Today he refused to talk to me all-together. His refusing took the form of him snapping his eyes shut tight whenever I spoke to him--like if he couldn't see me he also wouldn't be able to hear me.  And let me tell you, that man can be STUBBORN: there was a whole lot of squeezed closed eyes today. I just left him in his recliner and went back to my sewing machine. I mean, if he didn't want to eat lunch, what would it hurt in the long run?
And after Beve got home, all was forgotten.

He's definitely NOT a baby, as you can plainly tell. This is the Hoyer lift used to move Grampie. In theory I can use it. In reality, once he's settled in the sling, he's REALLY heavy. It takes two people to navigate it. The aides who've worked with it for years are still getting used to moving someone as large as Grampie, and even Beve likes J or me to help guide him. But it's pretty slick when it works, and Grampie actually enjoys it, which is helpful for everyone.

This is the dogs' new favorite post--waiting outside Grampie's room. Kincade especially has completely jumped ship from 'dogging' MY steps, to wanting to be where Grampie is. Likewise, he loves their antics, laughs at them, pets them. The other morning I watched Maica trying to measure the distance between where she sat and Grampie's wheelchair, trying to decide whether she could sit on his lap. Wisely she chose not to, but soon I think they'll all be ready for that!

Okay, this isn't a recent picture, but just tonight Grampie noticed Beve nodding off on the couch and said, "come climb in by me." It made me think of this picture, taken when we had three VERY SMALL children. We were very sleep deprived back then. (Have I mentioned three children in 3 1/2 years?) This week reminds me a little of those days. A little sleep deprived, and a whole lot of "I don't know what he needs, what do you think?"
But we're laughing and enjoying it and have a huge sense of God's presence.

Grampie's presence, the presence we couldn't really prepare for no matter how much we prepared, is real now. It's bigger and taking up space in every part of our home. But that's how God meets us too. I realized yesterday that I have to develop a new routine to my mornings, for example. For the last decade, I've gotten up, grabbed tea and sat quietly in my living room for as long as it took to awaken, talk to God, read, meditate, enter into the day. Now my living room is Grampie's space--completely and totally. And his aides have been busy with him there for two hours by the time I get up each day. So today I grabbed my tea and went back to my room, sat in my cozy bed and met God there. It was exactly where I needed to meet Him for such a day as this, especially this day when Grampie would close his eyes against me and I'd find the (internal) humor in it. That's Holy Spirit humor, I think, because I know the frustration was itching to rise. I could feel it.

There we are. Pressing on.
And God meets us.
And it's good.
This is the moment of his homecoming. Just look at those smiles. That's what this is all about. That and sleeping in his recliner and watching the dogs and being in a home and all of it. I can't count all the blessings. It's difficult but it's a beautiful difficulty, and we're loving it.


Kristina said...

It's touching to think that perhaps the animals sense his need, his vulnerability and gravitate toward him for that reason? Or perhaps I'm reading too much into it. Anyway, it's wonderful that you are doing this, though there will likely be difficult times.

jeskmom said...

I agree, Kristina. I think they do sense his need. I've heard from several people who have had similar experiences with older or disabled people in their homes. Their animals (especially dogs) become very sensitive to those people almost immediately. I love it!

Pamela M. Steiner said...

Oh, I'm so glad I found this post. I've been praying and wondering. I LOVE the picture of his homecoming! Yes, you have done the right thing, no matter how difficult it gets. The wonderful is that? An added blessing for all concerned.

The eating...that is normal for alzheimer's/dementia. He will eat when he is hungry enough. I wouldn't worry. Does he drink ensure/boost? We used to put a scoop of ice cream in it for my Mother and my Dad, and they loved having a "milkshake" that was actually good for them. Yes, you need to maintain your time of peace and devotional reading,etc. Time and place may have to be adjusted from day to day...but just do it regardless. You will need that refilling/refueling.
We are going to have my mother in law every other week now instead of just weekends. It will be a similar challenge, although she is still physically ambulatory...but mentally becoming less and less flexible. She is 91 & 1/2. I will still be working full time (4 days a week), so my hubby who is retired will have her all day alone...pray for him. Even tho she is his is so difficult for him to accept the fact that she can't help being the way she is now. It takes monumental patience to deal with her. So we will pray for each other, ok? Thank you for sharing this. I am excited to see it all.