Thursday, October 26, 2017

What I wouldn't give


If any of you are on Facebook, you know that they show you what you posted the same day in previous years.  These posts can remind you of wonderful times, adventures and even some events you don't want to remember like car accidents or deaths.  Then there are the bittersweet posts like the one that popped up for me yesterday

Had an awesome day with my Grandma. Lunch downtown, ice cream for dessert, a little shopping and a few hours of gabbing at her place. Didn't expect to be gone for 5 1/2 hours but was all worth it to hear her excitedly tell the ice cream man "full scoops please!" when he asked what she wanted. I love my grandma!
That was seven years ago.  A year after that, she had been diagnosed with dementia and we were on the spiral of our new reality with her.  I meant to do a day like that again but time gets away from you and then before you know it, you're filled with regrets.  Regrets of time you didn't spend with people when they were here in their physical or mental capacity.  Regrets of times I took for granted she would always be here.  What I wouldn't give to have another wonderful day like that with her.  I took a few pictures of us together that day and it was one of the rare times she smiled in a picture.  I don't know why but she never liked her smile even though her teeth were perfectly straight.  I cherish those pictures so much and the memories of just being able to sit with her afterward and talk for 2 1/2 hours about anything and everything.  Even at that point, she would occasionally say "whatchamacallit" but it wasn't anything that alarmed us at the time.  We now know it was an early sign of the disease.

When we were on vacation, we walked into a restaurant for the Mr's birthday and I reveled in the smell of the lobby.  It's an old school restaurant and it smelled just like Grandma's house used to.  A lingering smell of coffee, perfume and something being baked.  I wanted to cry.  That smell is long gone and you don't realize until it is just how much you associate it with that person.  The scents of her White Diamonds perfume, morning coffee, White Rain hairspray, and lotion all co-mingling together to make a scent that was uniquely her.  We all have it.  From the soap we use mixed with our hair products and perfume to our coffee and tea that linger on our breath.  The way we hug someone or touch their face.  It all makes up who we are beyond our personalities and when those things are no longer done or used, there is almost a "pre-death" that takes place.  Those things I took for granted that would always be a part of her home regardless of her mental state are gone.  Her house smells like she was never there.  Now it smells like her husband.  It smells unfamiliar and cold.  Seven years ago, you could blindfold me and drop me off in their living room and I'd know exactly where I was based on that familiar smell I knew all my life.  Now?  I wouldn't know it at all.

Obviously, I get emotional sometimes.  It can be just thinking about how I need to talk with her and know I can't.  It can be listening to the first verse of Nana by The 1975 "I wish you'd walk in again, Imagine if you just did.  I'd fill you in on the things you missed..."  But like the quote above says, "how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."  I try to remain grateful for the time we did share together and the memories we made.  I try to remember her joy that day when we spent a long overdue grandma/granddaughter day together.  I laugh when I think of her limits to what she would tolerate like a flour fight on Christmas cookie day that would end up with her laying down the law on her adult children and me and how we would giggle under our breath.  (Usually, one of us would put flour on our hand and go give her a hug and put a flour hand print on her back or butt.  I can only imagine her irritation and then possibly a little smile when she discovered it later.)

As the holiday season approaches and we are less than a month out from Thanksgiving, my thoughts turn to her.  My instinct is to think of her noodles and making sure I got a good seat to chat with her at the table...and then I remember.  Now, those thoughts have been replaced with a much more bleak reality.  For those of you who are able to celebrate with your parents and grandparents that are not ravaged by health issues this holiday season...revel in it.  Soak it all in.  You don't know if this holiday season is your last with anyone but particularly the older members of your family.  A year can change everything. 

I have a picture of us from that wonderful day on my laptop.  I see it everyday and I smile.  As bittersweet as it to reminded of that day, I'm glad I am.  I will remember it for the both of us.

What's the best day you spent with your grandparent from childhood or adulthood?

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  1. One of our biggest flaws as humans is how easily we can take things for granted. I took childhood for granted until one day I realized it was over. I took time with my Dad for granted too and, while there is a mixed blessing with something like cancer that allows you to at least get a chance to say things you might not have said otherwise, when my Dad passed away all I could think of is how I could have made more time with him when he was here. But the saying you have at the top of your post is profound. We should rejoice in the fact that we had someone worth remembering, worth missing, worth wishing we'd have had more time with. Truth is, there is never really enough time with loved ones, so missing them when they're gone is the best way to tell just how special they were to you. Your grandma was special to me too and she is most certainly on my list of people I wish I'd had more time with. But I know that day you took her around town was special for both of you, and I like to think that someone in there she can revisit that memory even if she can't quite decode all the information. Be greatful for the times you DID get to spend with her. I am sure, if she could, she would too.

  2. What wonderful memories. My brands all died young I have no memories of them. Makes me wistful when people light up speaking of theirs. I love the handprint story! I think that's why I am drawn to seniors and did volunteering as a companion. Cherish those precious memories

  3. You are not kidding when you say what a difference a year can make. We think we'll always have more time, and then one day, we find out that we don't, and the regrets are hard to let go of. I did not have close relationships with my grandparents, so while I have some memories, none are terribly powerful for me. I did not know my mom's mother well at all, and have more memories of my paternal grandmother, who was a cutie (my nickname as a baby was "little Annie" because I apparently looked like her). My paternal grandfather was a very difficult man and kept to himself in the basement (true story) so walking down those steps into the moth-scented room was not grand by any means, but I do remember it well. Yes, cherish every moment you have with everyone you love. That sweet young man who I met last year is being buried on Saturday and I read his obituary yesterday and it just crushed me. 18 years old and so full of life and love...and now he's gone. So love on everybody you can when you can.

  4. Trying to revel in the moment myself. My dad has dementia too. He still knows me but can barely hold a conversation. Mom needs help, with him and other problems, but wont take it. She wants to lay it all on me. So Ive had to remove myself temporarily so that they will seek what they need, a home health giver and some counseling. I so want to hug them and drive them places and be their everything but I physically can’t do it anymore. Perhaps I was never meant to especially alone. Im missing them even though this separation is temporary I long to laugh and hug.


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