What a title for this story; though apt. It does come across a bit melancholy. At least that is from my perspective at this time; not my fondest memory.
I moved back to Pennsylvania in June of 2003 and was with her until end of life in October of 2015. That was a long time to be as she coined my status from time to time; as head cook, bottle washer, laundry man, groundskeeper, taxi driver, handyman, POA, caregiver and sometimes grandson. But, despite all those various titles she gave me; I tried to always end everything with being her grandson. Sadly all those things, I did by myself with zero help from family. Though I should add, there were a few very dear friends that assisted from time to time with yard work; oh and how I appreciated that help. Though all in all, I do not retain any regrets. Well, sort of, there is always that nagging thought of, I could have done something better or something more. But, I know she was for a want of nothing; I saw to that with an unwavering resolve. However, it was not until the aftermath of her passing, that I discovered the multitude of resources that might have helped make some days to not be so emotionally wrought in anguish of her deteriorating mind and body. Oh, if it wasn’t for a very select few individuals of whom were not immediate family. I probably would have needed medicated and institutionalized to convalesce for a very long time. To which, I thank them from the bottom of heart. It was the being there, and not sitting in judgment, and just practicing that unconditional love towards another human being that helped me through the trials and tribulations. It was truly the saving grace for my mind. Now onto that fateful day of no return.
It was a usual evening, or so I thought at the time. I called to say goodnight to Nan. She chatted about what she did that day and her new discoveries on the internet. Not to mention the next day’s tasks she would like me to do in her garden; the usual trimming, weed whacking and dig up some bulbs for her new neighbor’s flowerbed. She sure did like her flowers; her flower bed was from 6 to 8 feet deep around her entire home. Oh, what an orchestra of flowers; when one was done flowering, another took its place, from spring until late fall. Then she ended our conversation saying she was feeling peckish and was going to make a sandwich. I said I love you bunches Nan and she said I love you too ducky, ta ta for now (time was 8:pm).
The next day around 7:am the phone rang. My heart I swear skipped a beat, because I was always waiting for that oh so special call. So I answered and Nan was crying. I asked her what’s wrong, she said, I am stuck dear. I asked her, where are you stuck? In the kitchen, she replies. I am now running to my room to get dressed as she continues to start rambling and muttering incoherently. I say Nan, what else is wrong, listen to me, talk to me. She comes back to focus, I am just hurting dear. I ask her should I call an ambulance, she was adamant in saying, absolutely not dear. I tell her, I am walking to the car as we speak and I should be there in about 15 mins. She said thanks dear, but, don’t bother, I will be fine, just needed to talk to someone and was feeling sorry for myself; and so sorry I was a bother to you this early in the morning. I told her, love you bunches, but, I am still coming down to check on you. she hangs up.
Holy heck, I drove like a crazy man and made it to her home in under 15 mins. I dig out my keys and open the kitchen door. Saying Nan, Nan as not to startle her. Oh, and there she was lying on the kitchen floor, not moving or answering me. I ran over to her and shifting into super focused mode. I get very very calm in emergencies. Reach down to check her pulse. There is a pulse, and I start to rub and gently squeeze her shoulder to get her to wake up. She stirs and says why are you here dear. I said you called me. I did no such thing. I was like ok moving on. So I asked her, how did you get on the floor? She says, I have no clue dear, I just woke up here. Well, let’s get you up and into a chair. She moves her right leg barely an inch and screams. I say do not move an inch Nan; just stay right there; I will get you a pillow. She then says I have to tiddle dear really bad. I place the pillow under her head and tell her again do not move. I am calling the ambulance. She was like not until I get to tiddle dear. I said one sec Nan, be right back. I went outside and called the ambulance and then came back in and found her fluffiest towels and very very gingerly scooted the towel under her. Apparently, just in time. then I bagged it and gave her a blanket. Just trying to keep her calm now asking her what she did last night after our call. She was like I just made sandwich dear (inbetween the tears). I glanced over to the counter and saw the half made sandwich; in addition, a knot of her hair on the refrigerator door handle. No blood anywhere, but took some quick pictures of where it looked like she originally fell. Then the ambulance arrived. Oh, this was spine chilling, as they put the board under her. She screamed in such pain and so loud, that mine and everyone else eyes started tearing up. We were all trying to reassure her; though pointless really. She was just in too much pain to be coherent any longer. The ambulance took her off to the York Hospital.
If there is a lesson learned here. Try your damndest to get your older adults to have something to contact emergency services or monitor them. One never knows when something is going to happen, and if they have chosen to live by themselves, you have to just roll with the punches so to speak. Because, unless they are declared through a court as non compos mentis; one has little control over their choices of preventive care. I know I tried and tried, but failed in this. Though Luckily, she did at least accept having a cell phone to at least call me.
The results were she had a stroke, a mild heart attack and greatly bruised her hip and twisted her spine. Luckily, nothing was actually broken. As she fell, she had twisted left from the counter she was facing while making her sandwich at a little after 8:pm; and while falling, her head hit the corner of the refrigerator door handle that was back and to her right. She was almost 11 hours on the floor.
The aftermath of this story will be continued in the coming weeks in Stories from the Heart.
Miss you very much Nan.
Your Ever Loving Grandson.