Fetching Cokes and Ice Cream:: Life Cycles and Granny Chronicles

Fetching Cokes and Ice Cream:: A Tribute to My Granny

That was Then

Once upon a time, I once mused over the similarities between old folks and children; it was the very first post I ever wrote for HMB. It was all truth, no fiction. Many of the anecdotes are well known tales from my #GrannyChronicles. Some years have passed since I put pen to paper and recorded those memories of my Granny; reading it now is bittersweet. My thoughts and words today are in sharp contrast to the lightheartedness of my inaugural post. I am forced to reckon with the fact that this precious life won’t last forever. 

As is the case with babies and children, the days seem to go by so much more quickly the more you want to hold them down. And just as I did with my kids, I am begging time to slow down. The old lady is 95 now. Five years shy of the century mark. Ninety-five… well past the age grammar rules say I should spell her age. Numerals… for anything higher than 10 I’ve been told. But words just seem so much more meaningful.

This is Now 

Granny doesn’t move like she used to move. Sometimes she stumbles when she walks. I watch her. Discreetly. I try not to let her see me… watching her. Because I know she doesn’t like it. She is self-conscious about all the things she once did effortlessly. Her steps… calculated. Her arms always reaching out for the next object to brace herself. So I watch. Because I want to be able to catch her if I think she is going to fall.

Losing her independence is maddening for her. The walker beside the door of her bedroom sits stationary. Unused, except for the few times she stored her books atop the seat. Or one of her grands decides to sit on it when visiting. We serve her meals in bed so that she doesn’t have to make the trek to the kitchen. We serve her Cokes there too. And Blue Bell ice cream. I am 97.9% sure it is the coke and ice cream running through her veins that has kept her alive for so long. When we come bearing these gifts, she always tells us that she could have done it herself.

Her hands are not so steady. When she pulls out her checkbook, I always know that she will sign her name – but everything else – is my job now. She has a tremor that comes and goes. These days, she always asks for a spoon to eat. It is easier than a fork and even though I offer, she makes it clear she would rather eat her food cold than have me lift the spoon to her mouth.

We all repeat things. A lot. Her – because she doesn’t always remember telling us. Us – because she doesn’t always remember what we’ve told her. In a previous life, I would try to remind her. Until I watched her – frustrated – trying to remember. Reminding was always more for me than for her. Now, I just pretend every time is the first time. 

It’s not uncommon for her to call me by my mother’s name. Or by my daughter’s name. I answer to all of them. I know she is talking to me. And after all, we have quite a few similar facial features.

We try not to leave her home alone for too long. Things that used to come pretty easily are not always that easy anymore. Her cell phone. The microwave. The remote control to her television. The thought of her struggling with any one of them is really {for lack of a better word} hard. I am happier when I know that someone is home to do all the things she might not be able to do.

Her tongue is still sharp. Hellraiser and troublemaker are still very fitting alternative terms of endearment for her. Smart comments and a sense of humor remain even though the jabs come less frequently. The sparkle in her eyes and wicked grin reveal how very much alive she still is… in spite of it all.

When Granny naps, I always pause to watch her. I linger at the door just long enough to make sure I see the rise and fall of her chest a few times before I walk away. 

Where We Are

This is where we are in the cycle. 

I am 49 years old; my kids are 23, 20 and 14 years of age. All beyond numbers as words – and into numbers as numerals. We have lived our entire lives with this woman as a fixture in our home and lives. Not many of us get to keep our grands and great grands for as long as we have. We are fortunate to still have Granny. I know we are.

So, I feel guilty saying it is not enough… wanting more time. With every noticeable change, I feel like I am one degree closer to losing her. The thought of – the absence of Granny – is paralyzing to me. I know it is part of life. But. As ready as she may be, I am not. And there is nothing in me that believes I will ever be. So for now, I will keep at it. Happily. Cherishing everyday. Praying for time to slow down. Watching the rise and fall of her chest. Fetching Cokes and ice cream. And standing by to catch her if it looks like she may fall.


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