I've spent the last few days moving my sweet 89-year-old grandmother into her apartment in a Seward retirement community center. You should know a bit about her story to appreciate this woman’s strength, courage and perseverance.
Granny was born, raised and married all in Vernon, Texas. Grandpa died in 1987 and left her a widow upon his retirement. She continued to live in the home Grandpa built with his brother in the 1940’s. In 2005, health issues required Granny to come live with my parents here in Omaha. In 2006, my parents and Granny moved to Anchorage, Alaska.
Presently, Mom and Dad are moving back to Nebraska. They are in the process of selling their home and sent Granny on ahead to get settled. We decided the quaint retirement community in Seward (our new town) would be the perfect fit for her physical and social needs.
Granny flew alone from Anchorage, to Minneapolis, destined for Omaha. She spent the night at my house and the next morning we drove to Seward.
After signing the paperwork, taking a tour, unloading her suitcases and making a list of items to buy at Walmart, we made our way to Runza for lunch. We spent the afternoon decorating and organizing.
All the while I was feeling a bit uneasy. I wondered if she would venture out of her room for the activities. I questioned if she really understood that the button on a string was for emergencies only, not to call for help if she needed help getting her necklace off. I plugged in the two nightlights in just the right places to light up the bathroom at night. I announced where I was putting things in all the drawers and cupboards and then took her on a tour to remind her. I gave her one last tutorial on her cell phone and showed her how to set the alarm on her clock beside the bed.
I accompanied her to dinner in the dining room and could feel my legs bouncing from nerves under the table. She seemed as cool as the cucumbers in the salad we ate. I asked her, “How are you doing Granny? Are you feeling comfortable? If you aren’t sure you are ready to stay yet, you can come home with me and I can bring you back in a few days.”
I honestly felt like I was dropping her off at the dorms for her first year of college.
She smiled and responded, “I’m fine sweetie. I need to stay here.”
I walked her back, settled her in, kissed her goodnight and assured her the kids and I would be back in a few days.
As I drove the 70 miles back to Omaha I considered the complete circle life makes. She’s living as independently as she can and yet she still needs reassurance, reminders and help.
What joy to honor and love her during these last years.
We are going to have some fun. Fair warning Seward, Granny and I can laugh pretty loud!
*******Moving Granny to a retirement community center originally appeared on momaha.com, where Jessica Brashear writes every other Tuesday.
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