Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stuff My Mamaw Says

My paternal grandmother, Mamaw, is 94. My maternal grandmother, Mama Cym, just turned 96. They both live in the same retirement apartment complex, in their own apartments. It's wonderful that they can still live in their own individual spaces.

But Mamaw needs care here and there throughout the day, because she's quite blind and almost deaf (though her hearing aids make a HUGE difference). She needs someone to fix her meals, pick out her clothes (though she can dress herself), giver her the pills she needs to take daily, take her blood sugar levels and blood pressure and wash her dishes every day. She also needs someone to help her shower, do her laundry and clean her apartment twice a week. It's too much for any one family member to do - my sister and sister-in-laws would prefer to spend their time with Mamaw taking her out to breakfast or lunch, taking her to special events, taking her shopping, getting her together with her great-grandchildren and other fun stuff. Having caregivers gives family more time to do all those social things with Mamaw that are just as important and necessary as the daily grind stuff. We have one caregiver to do the daily things and one to do the weekly things.

But our daily caregiver had surgery and needed a couple of weeks off. My brother and sister-in-law came to our hometown to take care of Mamaw for the first week, and I've been here for a week. I stayed right here in her apartment. My siblings and I have grown up with Mamaw being a HUGE part of our lives, and I'm glad to give back just a tiny bit of what she's given me.

But this week has also been a fascinating learning experience for me. It's something I think every adult should do at least once - spend one week taking care of someone elderly. I thought I really knew a lot about aging issues; I learned there's so much still to know.

One thing I learned was just how many people here are on the Internet. There's anywhere from a dozen to two dozen networks showing at any given time. Why this place doesn't have a Facebook page with all of its events posted, or a Google calendar with all the events posted, I do not know. Yes, I've suggested it. It would make it easy not only for all those Internet connected folks here, but also, for their relatives to see what's going on (there are almost daily events down in the common area).

Mamaw in the snowBut the best thing about this week is enjoying Mamaw's perspective on the world. She often had to curb her silly side over the years, as a preacher's wife. But now, she doesn't hold back at all, and it's incredibly fun to hear her perspective on everything. So I decided to post updates to Facebook about our time together. And she turned out to be a HUGE hit on Facebook! I haven't had so many likes for most of the things I post:

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Mamaw comment for today (actually said last night): "I'm content to just sit here. I'm content like a cow.

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In response to "How are you today," Mamaw's response was "Fat and Sassy!"
Coolest. 94-year-old. Eva.

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After burping several times in one minute, Mamaw says: "you outta find a way to put all this in a can. Then you could run your car on it."

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Mamaw likes to have her hair brushed, because she likes her "scalp woke up."

Mamaw and Jayne
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My grandmother just asked me where I parked my motorcycle outside. Yes, Mamaw, I road it from Oregon to Kentucky. In 12 hours. She either thinks I am the most badass motorcycle rider EVER, or she forgot I live in the other state. Or maybe both?

Emma washing in the 1930s* * *
Mamaw needs an iPhone with REALLY loud volume and on and off buttons that can be distinguished easily just by feeling them - so she can talk with Siri all day. She has a million questions, and Siri could answer them, some of them more than once!

* * *
Here at my grandmothers' retirement home, someone has named their Internet connection "WildTurkey", and another person has named their Internet connection "FreeSpirit." I think there are more things going on here than you might think just by visiting the lobby.

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Mamaw likes to sing in the morning. The correct lyrics to the hymn are "Turn your lights down low, And listen to the master's radio" but she changed it to "Turn your lights down low, and then give a big hug to your beau..." And then she laughed and laughed.

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Mamaw, after getting mad at me for not letting her lick the chicken salad off the bread instead of also eating the bread : "I wish I could be around when YOU'RE in your 90s and see how YOU act." I'm learning a LOT about how to act being around all these folks at Pleasant Point, lemme tell ya! (she's diabetic - we have to really monitor her regarding her food)

Mamaw and HER doggies* * *
I once asked her if she could have been a preacher. She was washing dishes. She whirled around and said, "Yes! I could have been a preacher! I know how to preach!" I said, yes, but Mamaw, Paul said that women should stay silent in church. She made a face and said, "Paul hated women. Some woman broke his heart and we've been paying for it ever since."

* * *
In addition to taking care of my paternal grandmother (Mamaw) this week, I'm also spending time with my maternal grandmother (Mama Cym), who tells me FANTASTIC family stories. Yesterday, she talked about her grandmother, who was forced to go live with a cousin when his wife died, to take care of him and his children, and then pretty much forced to marry him (and he was MUCH older). Before you tut tut other countries with different religions for their attitudes re: women, remember that it was just as bad here not too long ago!

* * *
Decided to spot clean Mamaw's carpet. While I was down scrubbing at stains, she said, "Look at you, down there on your knees. If you're gonna be down there on your knees, you might as well pray." This was followed by a song she made up right then and there about praying while cleaning carpets. I apologize for not remembering the lyrics.

* * *
Took Mamaw out for Chinese Food after a funeral. Her fortune cookie said, "Someone is interested in you." She was absolutely delighted to know this. I said, "There's a man standing over there by the register. He might be the one interested in you." She said, "Well, it could be. But if he spent any time with me and had to fuss with me, he might not be interested in me any more." The guy just shook his head and laughed.

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This morning's singalong was "Life Is like A Mountain Railroad." Mamaw can harmonize to anything. We also tried "Your Cheaten' Heart." Being a good Christian girl from Spottsville, Kentucky, she only knew the chorus and the melody. OF COURSE she does NOT know the words. Only Honky Tonk girl in this apartment is ME.

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Me: "Mamaw, I'm going to take a shower now. Will you be okay?"
Mamaw: "Yes, sweetie, I'll be fine."
Me: "Don't you have a party while I'm taking a shower."
Mamaw: "What?! But I wanted to have my boyfriend over!"

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Saturday, as I drove past the municipal golf course.
Me: "Mamaw, there are people playing golf today! Even in this cold weather!"
Mamaw (in super pitiful voice): "Poor little ball, just gettin' smacked around ever' where. Didn't do nothin' to nobody. Gettin' lost in the weeds. Gettin' left out in the cold." (Laughs)

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And last, but not least: I recorded her singing and uploaded it here. These are all really short - each less than four minutes:

Really wished I had gotten her singing "He's got the whole world in his hands" and "This land is your land" and "You are my sunshine" as well.

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