224 days. The number of days I spent in South Dakota taking care of grandma and grandpa. 3 times. The number of times I felt appreciated.
This is something I struggled with. I loved being there. Did I love every minute of it? No. Do I regret doing it? No. It is something I will treasure in my heart for the rest of my life...being there for grandpa during the last days of his life. What I struggled with was feeling appreciated. I struggled with this because I felt bad for wanting it. Is it selfish to want to feel wanted and appreciated?
This isn't going to be about grandpa. This is about grandma.
I've talked to a few people who can relate to this. When I was younger I looked up to my grandparents and extended family (aka aunts and uncles) through rose colored glasses. During the time in SD, the glasses came off and I saw my family as people, human beings who aren't perfect. The hardest was Grandma. Mom always told me the Grandma was a hard woman to please. My dad's cousins said when they were younger they were always scared of Aunt LaVernge.
There are 3 times I remember that I felt appreciation from Grandma, now I'm not keeping track and I know that there were other times, but these are the ones that have stuck with me. And on this snowy morning I was just thinking about them. Taking care of Mary Lou there are times when I get flashbacks from caring for grandma and grandpa. Well thats what happened this morning.
The first time was when my aunts had just called grandma and grandpa and told them the news of an assistant living place that they had gotten for them in MN near by my aunt and uncle and that they would be moving there in May. I was in their bedroom making the bed and Grandma came in a told me. Then she said that she was so thankful for me and what I've done for Grandpa. How they never could of stayed on the farm that long through the winter if it wasn't for me. I broke down right there. I had just talked to my mom and told her how I was struggling with grandma and having such a hard time with seeming to please her. It's awesome how God works, eh?
The second time was at the interment. Now it had been a week since grandpa passed away. We had a prayer service one day, the funeral was the next, then the follow day was the interment, then the scattering of grandpa's ashes. By the time we got to the interment I was emotional numb and was determined not to cry at the cemetery. And I was doing a great job of accomplishing this. Towards the end I was standing next to grandma watching the rest of the family throw a handful of dirt into the hole. Grandma suddenly put her arm around me and pulled me closer, very tightly, the emotion was mutual, I felt it. I teared up then. Grandma had never hugged me that tightly.
The day Grandpa passed away I was the only one there. I was there when we got the call. I drove her to the nursing home. I was there when we went into the room and she leaned over the bed and heard her deep sobs over her husband of almost 60 years. I won't ever forget that image in my mind. And then that first night without grandpa, when we both stayed up until 2am so we would be tired enough to go to sleep. It was only me and grandma while the rest of the family traveled to the farm for the funeral. It pulled us closer together and I felt like I was there for her. And that she appreciated it.