As if all my slacking weren’t enough I certainly found good reason to slack some more.
My dear grandmother (AKA Memaw) had been getting sick. Well, to start at the top she had a breast lump which she flat refused to have seen. It took about 4 years to get her to finally go have the thing looked at. By the time she caved and went for a biopsy she had not only a lump but a skin ulcer due to the cancer. When they finally were able to get her to keep her appointment for her surgery (which she kept putting off) the lump had actually grown roots. They removed the breast and said the cancer was not in her lymph nodes. It seemed like a miracle honestly. They gave her a prescription which was supposed to decrease her odds of developing another cancer. She was to take this medication for 5 years. She tossed that medication in the trash and that was that.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of all this I noticed her memory seemed to be slipping a lot. The same conversation would be on a loop for a good half-hour or longer.
“So what are y’all doing for Christmas?”
I would reply, “I’m planning to make a nice dinner and maybe go see some Christmas lights with the kids.”
“Oh well, that sounds real nice. Is there a lot of decorated houses around there where you live?”
“Yes there is, in fact one neighborhood where people drive through and vote on which house is the favorite.”
“Oh that sounds like fun….. So what are y’all doing for Christmas?”
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
I could never get mt Father to see it. He always explained it away. But everyone else could see it. She also had some personality changes, and not very nice ones either. She would be uncharacteristically snappish and edgy at times. I thought maybe she was just tired or feeling bad from her surgery. Not the case at all I came to discover.
Anyhoo, fast forward a couple of years after her surgery. She was complaining of lower back pain. The pain never went away. Again, trying to get her to go get it seen took the hand of God. When she finally went she danced around the truth and refused to go back for a biopsy. “The Dr. said that she couldn’t say it was cancer so there’s good news!” What the Dr. actually said was, “I can’t say it’s cancer unless we do a biopsy.” Memaw had a gift for twisting it just enough to fool us all. She didn’t want to receive what was happening and she didn’t want to worry people. Well, it was cancer again. And she still fooled most of us for quite a very long time about it. I never realized how bad it was. When I called she would say she was getting better all the time, and she had a lot of good help with housework and getting to the store. Her sisters had been there helping her.
One day I called Memaw and her sister told me that Memaw was not able to get out of bed that morning and that they had brought in a hospital bed and she was now under hospice care. This is when I really knew. Also we needed someone to go and stay with Memaw so she would be able to stay in her own home like she wanted. So I volunteered. Her sister and I rotated days. I would go there with my kids during the week, and she would come back on the weekends. I did the 2 hour drive there each Tuesday and back each Saturday for 6 weeks.
You never realize what it truly means to care for someone at the end of their life until you actually do it. That itself is a few other separate blog posts. At any rate, she passed peacefully and for that I am thankful. She suffered long and it was terrible to watch. I did have the pleasure of some good times with her at the end though. Times when she was feeling social and up to conversations, even if some of those conversations repeated on a loop for an hour or more. We also inherited her Dachshund. Thankfully he is well behaved and housebroken. Now if I can just get him to scoop his own poop…..