September 23, 2005

My Grandparents, Stress and Stuff

It has been a rough start to the day, things just haven't gone the way that I want them to and I am finding it difficult to improve my attitude. I am trying to, I really am. I am working hard to tear away the moody mindset and focus on the positive but I am having limited success.

Given the chance I'd love to go workout on my heavy bag for a while and then spend a couple of hours running up and down the court but those are not options right now. I can't ignore the things that I have to do at the office and yet at the moment I can't get them done.

A salesman with a bad attitude is unlikely to get any sales and that is not going to help improve his disposition so the goal of this post is to try and spew out as much of this crap as I can and push myself into that happier place I normally occupy.

Last night one of my grandfathers cried his way through a telephone call with me. I have written about my grandparents and concerns about them many times. You can find links here, here, and here.

I even wrote a post about putting it all in perspective here and for the most part I have, but there are moments when it is harder and yesterday set me off a bit. My grandfather cried because he is 91.5 and his ability to cope with stress is being beaten down by age and time.

His greatest fear is losing my grandmother or perhaps it is better to say that he fears dying first and leaving her. She is the same age as my grandfather and she is slowly beginning to lose it. There are little cracks in the dam, memory issues that used to be infrequent appear more often and she is showing some confusion about little things here and there.

I don't think that she is all that bad, but I agree with my grandfather that she is not as sharp as she used to be and neither is he. Part of the problem is that he knows it, he feels the edges getting duller and he is frustrated because his memory has always been outstanding and now it is getting harder for him to remember some things.

Physical ailments are taking their toll and though you can remind him of his age and how lucky he is those reminders are having less and less of an impact. More and more I find myself in role reversal mode. I prop him up. I promise him that he has no reason to fear being homeless or hungry and I tell him that if he dies I will see that my grandmother is taken care of. I make the promise as his eldest grandchild because I know that using those words will resonate with him.

And then when he tells me that every now and then he feels like giving up I stop in my tracks and consider the best response. I pause so that I can think for a moment about what I can do/say to keep his spirits up and to try and see that my mother has a father to look to for a little bit longer.

On the flip side of the fence I see my dad's father slowly fading. The final march approaches and I cannot do much other than to try and make it easy on him. It is more than 2 years since my grandmother died and I can see in his eyes that a piece of him is still gone and I feel his sadness.

The arms that held me as a baby and hugged me as a child have all become so frail. I have seen the the three of them argue with each other and I have seen them share the joy of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have held both of my grandfathers as they cried over the deaths of children, spouses and siblings. I have seen a lot and learned far more than I can share.

But I am not ready to let them go. I will not let them give up and I will use the various tricks I have learned over the years to keep their attention. And I see that my children spend as much time with them as possible.

It makes me very sad to think that my daughter may not have any memories of them, but I know that my son will and we will all take whatever time we get be it months, years or millenia.

All I want for them is a good quality of life and for them to feel happy. If I can help to provide that then I will. It is not so much to ask.

7 comments:

torontopearl said...

Jack, I think we all have been hearing sad news lately, reading sad blogs about grandparents & parents (Robert's and Neil's) and we are all becoming even more introspective and melancholy. I know I am...

jerry said...

hey man stumbled across your blog, had to say its pretty good man. as for your grandparents, 95.5, wow that is amazing. i had a great great grandmother who lived to 98 and she buried most of her kids, and the only thing that kept her down till about the last year of her life was her vision. one funny story i have of her was when she was in her early ninetys, one of my great aunts, (her daughter) made a snide comment to her, and my great great grandmother took her cane and went after her, and said, i am still your mother, you will not answer me back. i was on the floor laughing, that was awesome. theres somthing about those old people that are a treasure for sure. i know your grandparents are having a rough time, and i hope you get a few more years with them to get more of those kinds of memories. one thing to remember tho, it sounds like they had a full life, and you have to remember those things. anyway, great blog, im more interested in blogs where people just put 'LIFE' stuff on it, so i will be reading here regularly. later

Jack's Shack said...

TP,

Life has its moments, doesn't it.

Jerry,

Thanks for coming by, I appreciate the kind words.

Tamara said...

This brought tears. You are an amazing grandson and son I'm sure. I lost all my grandparents fairly young. Your grandparents are lucky to have you and vice versa.

Jack's Shack said...

Hi Tamara,

I just an ordinary guy, but thank you, I appreciate your thoughts.

MC Aryeh said...

A very touching post. I am experiencing something similar with my grandfather. My grandmother passed away three years ago, and it is tough to keep him going. He is only 84.

I was lucky enough to know my great-grandparents, and would love that for my children as well, though it gets less and less likely as time goes by...

Jack's Shack said...

Hi MC,

Thanks for stopping by. I too was lucky to have known my great-grandparents.

The hard thing for me is realizing that as a child I didn't understand how lucky I was. I wish that I could have spent more time with them.