Monday, April 16, 2012

One Year, One Month, and One Day Later

It's been a while and I feel bad about it. I really like to write this blog, but I really have a hard time "finding" time to write. I also have a hard time "finding" the motivation.  And then its difficult to "find" a topic interesting enough to write about. So, tonight due to a little bit of obscure and out-of-the-blue inspiration, I am going to steal the time and force the motivation. Taking the time from when I should be sleeping probably isn't wise, but I do it so often that its easy this time. The topic, I suppose, is to catch up all my readers (thanks mom!) on the changes in my life. I know that I am not a fan of long posts so I will break this one into three parts and attempt to keep it brief, but WARNING: I am a rambler.

There have been some major changes in my life and more are coming. I am trying to glean as much as possible from these experiences and as usual try to find my purpose and role in each. Looking for the silver lining has become a habit as much as a survival mechanism. In other words, I don't have as much control as I'd like, but I try to spin it to make me feel better.

The first major change has really been gradual. It happens to us all, and I am sure it has happened to many of you. This is the first time it has happened to me. At least like this. Everyone gets older and we all aspire to keep doing so. It is such a wonderful thing to watch your children grow up and mature. Its a great thing, with a few horrible times (middle school) thrown in, to grow up yourself.  It is such a bittersweet thing to watch your older family members grow old.

I am very close to my grandparents.  They have had a pretty big hand in who I am.  Grandpa taught me the farming and so many other things (I'll save those for another blog post). Grandma helped me appreciate food to the fullest.  What an amazing cook she was.  She still dabbles in the kitchen, but it has gotten very hard on her.  She is 84 and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She has been living with it for many years now and has been very admirable in the fight against it. She is losing. It is claiming her slowly.

Grandma was born in 1927 and grew up in the time where women in the country grew up as strong as the men.  She worked on her parents' farm in Eastern Oklahoma and has some very interesting stories of those times. When she graduated high school they asked her back to teach for a short time. She then went to work at Woolworth's in Enid, OK and met my grandfather while he was working as a soda jerk (How's that for a stereo-typical, movie picture worth story?).

She and Grandpa and Mom moved from Oklahoma to Kansas to Illinois, then back to Kansas and finally settled on grandpa's family farm in Oklahoma. She was a preacher's wife, and most often also worked herself.  She has worked for companies such as Vulcan, Farm Bureau, and John Deere. She was a full time mother, preparing amazing spreads at each meal and doing all the household duties such as ironing, sewing, canning, washing, etc. She even raised two other kids (cousins) from her extended family for several years.

I point these things out to illustrate what type of woman she was. She was active and strong. She was bright and proper. She was proud and extremely loving.

She was such a positive part of my life that it hurts to write the rest. As stated before she is losing her fight against this dreadful disease. It is not sudden and it is not kind. I hate this particular disease because of what it is doing to her. It is taking away my grandma who is an amazing person and quite frankly one of the nicest, most caring people I have ever known. It has turned her into a weak, confused, overly dependent patient. Fortunately, she hasn't demonstrated the meanness, but we know it is coming. It is not necessary to continue with this train of thought as it is painful both for me and the reader and serves only to bring us down and focus on the negative.

Despite all the negative effects, I believe that she has really fought it to the fullest. Grandma has done crosswords all her life well (I bet she can whip your grandma at Wheel of Fortune).  She was a book keeper working with figures and troubleshooting issues within the corporate world for years.  She stayed active in the churches, community and at home. She ate well and has watched her health well.  I think this has helped her retain much of her brain power.

This has prompted a change in the way we do things on the farm. She still works the garden as much as she can, but does so mostly at the direction of grandpa (on second thought that may not have changed much).  She can make the meals, but has to be looked after through most of the process.  She still demands to do the dishes and almost gets angry when you suggest she stay in her seat and let you do it. My mom is the best at this and grandma usually lets her. Grandma follows grandpa out to the wood shop and helps him with his "tinkering." She wants to be near him. She checks on him constantly and feels that she has to watch after him.

I go to the farm at least every-other weekend and help with the farming/gardening/whatever-the-heck-else.  Usually, my little buddy, Joshua is with me. He loves his grandmother and looks after her when he needs to.  On occasion, grandpa needs me to take him to town to buy parts, supplies, etc. This is something much more difficult to do with grandma in tow. Joshua can stay with her. She really can take care of herself, but what Joshua does is answer her questions that come shortly after we leave and very often.  He is very patient and I am extremely proud of how respectful he is. She might read his T-shirt a dozen times a day and ask him the same questions over and over. He answers every time.

Through this horrible metamorphosis, grandma greets us every time with a big smile and a "I'm so glad you came to see us." She stays positive and really feels she is doing fine. When I ask her how she is doing on the phone her reply is always, "Pretty good for an old lady." I love that she is so cheery and full of heart. I love my grandma.