I visited my grandmother in the nursing facility where she’s spending a few days trying to rehab. The idea is to get her well enough to send her home to die.
She looked tired and deflated to me. When I came into her room, she was being interviewed by a member of the recreation staff about what kinds of things she likes to do. I sat next to Terry, who was visiting, and watched as my grandmother haltingly answered questions about what she likes to read (magazines), whether she likes to garden (she does), and what kind of tv she watches (football, baseball, and whatever Grampa is watching).
The nurse commented that Gramma seemed very alert and aware to her, but to Terry and me, it was as if Gramma was barely there. She knew her birth date, she gave her husband’s full name when she was asked (he’s known by a much shorter name, so Terry and I were surprised when Gramma responded with his pretentious given name) and she counted me when she was asked to list how many grandchildren she had. Each time, the nurse looked to Terry and me for confirmation that the answers Gramma was giving were correct, and they were.
What the nurse didn’t know, never having met my grandmother before that day, was that she was not alert and aware. She seemed like she was trying to see through a fog, and it was more than plain that she was pissed about it. She knew she wasn’t her usual sharp self, and it didn’t matter that the nurse was impressed; Gramma was having none of it.
I left her with a promise to come and visit again on Sunday (I’m in an all-day seminar tomorrow). My hope is that she’ll have had a chance to rest and recharge; I don’t think my grandmother minds dying so much, but she wants to do it with her wits about her.