Those Who Know The Way

Sep 11, 2011 by

I had the rare treat of speaking with Grandma over the phone this morning. It’s rare because here recently she’s been neglecting to answer the phone when people call. In her weakened state, it’s difficult for her to get to a ringing phone in time, or she forgets where she’s placed it, or she’s simply in an “I’m old and grouchy” funk and doesn’t feel much like talking. So, today, when I heard her feeble yet frantic voice squeak out a hello, I was delightedly surprised.

Today’s conversation went like many, previous others, with me shouting loudly into the phone standard questions like “How are you, Grandma?” “What did you eat for breakfast?” “Have you talked to anyone?” And with her 92-year-old, shaky voice she answered, as before, with the same rote responses. “I’m fine . . . just tired.” “Oatmeal.” “No . . . Barbara was here yesterday though.”

There was a little something new in our conversation this morning, however. Today, she actually took her breakfast in the dining room. The past several days have found her too weak to leave her apartment within the nursing facility, so the staff had to bring her meals to her. This morning, though, she used her walker to make it to the table, where she says she sat alone to eat, her dining partners nowhere to be found. Because her mind is beginning to play tricks on her, I don’t know if that’s true or not. It’s becoming more difficult to determine if whether the things Grandma says are reliable. Her mind, once so sharp, is failing. The days of quilting masterpiece heirlooms, solving crossword puzzles, and besting the players on Wheel of Fortune are over, I’m afraid.

Though Grandma made it to the breakfast table this morning, getting back home from it was difficult. She, with the slight bit of embarrassment, confessed that on the way back to her place, she got lost. In the fogginess of her reasoning, she couldn’t find her way back to the apartment that has been her home for over a year now, ever since she fell and broke her hip. “I was wandering around forever. I’m just going crazy,” she said, rather frustrated.

“We’re all just a little crazy, Grandma. Don’t worry about it. Be gentle with yourself when you forget things or get lost.” I tried to comfort.

“I know,” she conceded. “There’s always someone around here who knows the way.” Tears began to sting my eyes.

There’s always someone around here who knows the way. Here’s hoping Grandma is right.


Nicole Walters

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