tribute to my “grama”

I am in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Spokane, Washington for the Thanksgiving weekend.   The three of us here are 40, 60, and 80 year old women–me running my five miles each morning, my aunt walking, and my grama lying on the couch recovering from knee replacement.   It’s her third joint replacement, with a fourth scheduled (hips and knees done, shoulder coming up).   Is this an inevitable part of aging?   Is this what I have to look forward to?   As you know, I’m doing what I can to stave aging off.   We staged an intervention this morning to talk about  grama’s unwillingness to use the cane/walker, to consider that driving isn’t such a good idea, and to suggest she stop running for the phone and leaping up off the couch.   She’s already fallen once while we’ve been here, and we’re worried.   It’s hard to see someone you love suffering with arthritis, memory loss,  and many other degenerative conditions.   And this holiday weekend has been a reflective time to think about generations, love, loss, aging, family.

My aunt and grama are  both a little worried that I’m denying my kids the protein they need (my daughters being vegetarian and all of us eating very little animal food).   And they express concern about calcium, since  we don’t get dairy products.   I told them  not to worry because  I’ve never drunk milk and have the bone density of a 20-year old.   They look at me, a little puzzled, confused, and concerned.   From what I see in milk drinkers, both in the literature and in my life (anecdotally), well, let’s just say I’m going to keep going down this path I’m on.

My grama is technically not.   (My  actual grama, I mean.)   She’s my grampa’s fifth wife–my own grandmother died at her own hand at the age of 33.   My aunt I traveled here with was five years old at the time and, in all the chaos with police officers and ambulance EMT’s milling about not paying attention to her, she tragically  walked into the bedroom to see the scene after my grandmother put a bullet in her head.

“Grama” has been in my life since shortly after I was born, so she’s the only grama I’ve ever known.   She’s an amazing lady who is the best caretaker for my grampa I could ever hope for.   He completely lost his memory years ago and is now in a rest home.   I went to see him tonight, where he was preoccupied with touching my hair, and kept telling me it is pretty and gold.   I told him he could touch it all he wanted.   I miss the real him, but his sense of humor is still there even if he asks the same question a dozen times.   And my grama is as patient and loving the 12th time as the 1st.   Her first marriage did not work out–and amazingly, last night, we went to have dinner at the home of the woman who next married her first husband!   That is the kind of woman my grama is.   She’s forgiving and patient.   I want to be like her when I grow up.   (All except for her liberal use of the words “sh*t” and “d*mn,” haha.)

Aging is inevitable.   But I am here watching what hell it is at the end.   And I’m entirely unconvinced that it has to happen as early as it does for most of us.

5 thoughts on “tribute to my “grama”

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  1. I’m glad you are enjoying your trip Robyn. Your grama sounds like a wonderful woman. It’s very sad to watch our loved ones slip away, I know. My own grandma died from Alzheimer’s a couple years ago.

  2. This post makes me so sad because in March I buried my first grandmother (ovarian cancer) and in October I buried my second grandfather (bladder cancer). Currently I’m watching my second grandmother crumble as well with high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia. I feel like I have watched these people poison there bodies for years and almost feel at fault for not being more forceful about them eating/living the way I do – All healthful vegan nutrition. But they all thought I was the unhealthy one!!

    Robin – how do you avoid the guilt of watching your loved ones so sick? Do you ever feel like you should intervene more? If not, how do you except their decisions and not feel responsible for their problems when you KNOW you can fix them? I am struggling with this so badly!

  3. I’ve just found that people change when they want to–or not. They know where to come if they do want help. A few of my family members do want help. It’s hard when they don’t, though, huh?

  4. Robyn, yes that question does linger out there doesn’t it? You do have to get older, but do you have to get older and sick? I agree with you , that I don’t think one has to be old and sick. We are so uneducated in how our bodies work and the only way we are going to get educated is to educate ourselves.

    After your articles on enzymes, I started researching for a better understanding and what I have learned is amazing, and has changed my thinking regarding food simply for the fact of what is happening when I eat this, or that etc.

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