This post is part of a series about my experience leaving my life behind to care for my grandparents for a week. You can read the first post here.
This was the day I had expected when I first heard I would be taking his journey. I woke up with a laundry list of chores and tasks. Today would not be another day that seemed to just go on and on. A sense of purpose and action leapt off my note pad and into me. It filled me with a sense of purpose.
On the list was a car wash and oil change for a Buick that would likely never be driven by its owners again. My grandmother hasn’t driven for as long as I’ve been alive, but this car was my grandfather’s baby. He lamented about the fact that he had driven through some road construction and came away with tar all over the bottom of the passenger-side door.
My mother had asked me to help Grandma clean out her refrigerator while I was there. After we pulled all the food and 18 different condiments out of the fridge, I began removing the glass shelves to clean them. Grandma looked at me like I had three heads when I asked her if she had a toothbrush for cleaning. She thought we would just throw out expired sauces and old lunch meat, and here I was practically stripping the thing for parts. When we were done, that refrigerator sparkled, and any chance of anyone getting sick from expired food were in the trash.
We headed to the hospital to spend the afternoon with Grandpa, which meant watching old black and white movies. After the first movie, I headed out to find a way to get tar off the Buick. After searching online, I found a solution, and within 30 minutes, the tar was gone. Just in case you ever drive through construction and end up with tar on your vehicle, just use a little creamy peanut butter to buff the tar right off.
That solution also meant that I would have to make a quick run to the grocery store to replace Grandma’s peanut butter. She enjoys a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich for lunch, and as odd as that combination sounds, I’m sure adding tar to it would be a bad idea.
On my way back to the hospital I patted myself on the back for finally figuring out my way around this new town. And then of course, I sighed since I would be going home tomorrow. I looked forward to heading home to my family and my “real life”. I thought of all the caregivers who didn’t have that. These endless days of caring and doing were their “real life”.
Later that day, I made calls for appointments, calls to insurance, emailed family with updates, checked in at work, and made a list of things yet to do. There is always a list of things yet to do. It is what drives those who need lists to function. And those who hate lists? Well, it just drives them crazy. AT this point, I wasn’t sure what side of that fence I was on.
That night, Grandma and I sat at the dinner table and talked about days gone by. It was a unique opportunity for me to hear stories from her past, and I relished in the moment. The moment quickly ended when I reminded her that we needed to make another doctor appointment for her. She wasn’t ready to come back to the future and live her “real life”. I can’t remember the last time she had scolded me, but I’m sure it felt exactly the same way.
We ended our evening the way we did most: watching television in recliners and nodding off, hoping tomorrow would be a better day.
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