When caring for elderly loved ones, every day you have with them is a blessing, and a surprise. Due to a stroke several years ago, my grandma’s cognitive faculties are there one minute and gone the next.
Sometimes caring for her makes me feel like a contestant on a game show. Walking through her door every morning I never know what to expect, kind of like the game show, Let’s Make A Deal. Door #1 is a classic car fully refurbished and full of fuel. Door #2 is an old goat that likes to butt things. Door #3 is a rusty old RV whose engine still turns over, but has several screws loose. During the purse treasure hunt, you’re sure to land a spot competing for big prizes when you dig to the bottom of grandma’s sensible leather bag. She’s the only person I know who carries without fail, a Swiss Army knife, a bottle of Lourdes Water, and a napkin full of left over chicken for her barn cat.
Our afternoon coffee talks are always fun. I get a history lesson about surviving the Great Depression, tricks to prize winning pie crusts, and stories about her time on the railroad as a telegrapher during WWII. After her stroke verbal communication was a struggle, but now we laugh and guess a word or phrase one letter at a time, just like Wheel Of Fortune. The only problem is she thinks I should hand her $100 bills when she gets it right.
Shopping with grandma is like playing The Price Is Right. She still thinks a gallon of milk should cost 80 cents. She smacked me with her purse recently when I told her milk is actually $3.50 a gallon, she said she’d rather buy a milking goat.
My grandma continues to live on her acreage in a 1970’s mobile home. In its day her home was a fine dwelling, but to house a 91 year old with mobility problems, it would be better suited for a hunting cabin on the river. Be that as it may, we make the best of what we have. When it comes to assisting grandma with her bathing routine, my mother and I have several obstacles to overcome. I feel the whole experience is similar to the contestants on the popular summertime show, Wipe Out. Trying to manipulate three adults, a walker, and a shower chair on a slick floor while not toppling over into the toilet is no easy task. Once grandma is bathed and we are all soaking wet because of varying water pressure, we forge ahead to the finish line. Just as a contestant on Wipe Out would be sideswiped by a large swinging log or punching arm launching them into the pool below, my 3 year old bursts through the door with a potty emergency sending me into the tub.
People ask me how we don’t end up in a Family Feud caring for my grandma. I reply, that’s the $64,000 Dollar Question. I think it’s because we have a Love Connection. As a caregiver sometimes you’re the contestant making tough decisions with a lot at stake, and sometimes you’re the show girl clueless to how the game actually works but you never stop cheering on the players.
Mandy Sullivan freelance writer/columnist invites you to read about her precarious experiences as a caregiver for multiple generations. So sit back and enjoy a fun read in the only room of the house you can find some peace, even if you have to make a stink to do so!
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