When I do the dishes I like to play Pandora on my iPhone. Last night when I touched the screen on the phone, Lawrence Welk came flowing out of the speaker. I couldn’t help but stand motionless for a moment and reflect back to just a few nights prior when I played the same music for my Grandmother while she was laying in her hospital bed. She was always amazed at technology and more specifically the cell phone. She could sit for hours and look at pictures while listening to her favorite music at the push of a button.
Over the years many of my friends got married right out of high school, had a couple of kids and had families of their own. For me, not so much. I worked right out of high school, hung out with my Mom and after my Grandfather passed away, took care of my Grandma Trudy. While my friends were raising 8 year old’s, I was raising my 80 year old. I left Los Angeles and stayed in Tucson. I worked two jobs to help supplement her assisted living, attended my fair share of Bingo games, helped with arts & crafts, and was front and center for many a music recital. (Grandma loved to sing and play the accordion.)
After a few years of making Grandma a priority, several friends and some people who are/were related to me would often comment that I needed to “cut the cord” and get my own “family”. They would explain that taking care of Grandma was my Mom’s job and something that I shouldn’t be doing. I was conflicted when responding to those comments. On one hand they were right, it wasn’t my job. No one held a gun to my head. But it was the right thing to do and its what my heart guided me to do. Grandma Trudy was one of the sweetest people you could know. Sure, I’m partial because she was MY Grandma Trudy, but many of her nurses and friends at Hundred Palms Assisted Living would tell us how she was so funny, loving and kind.
There was one comment that I heard a lot, (besides the fact that she was awesome) and that was how rare it was to have a grandchild around. The doctors, nurses, physician assistants, even the cleaning staff would comment that most grandchildren don’t care about their grandparents and they are often left alone or simply forgotten. That lifted my spirit and broke my heart at the same time. Sure, I was exhausted working around the clock, but to see her eyes light up when I would bring her a Happy Meal or just sit with her when she was wasn’t feeling well, made it all worth it.
After many wonderful years, my 90 year old decided to leave the nest. During a time when one is usually full of sadness, I was full of pride. As my Mom and I sat next to her bed, playing Lawrence Welk and Glenn Miller (one of her favorites), I couldn’t help but look back on all that I did for her with no regrets.
As we were going through her belongings I came across jewelry, photos and several of her book reports (that will be a book or a website to follow soon). As I made my way to the bottom of a bag, I found a red foam clown nose. Seeing the clown nose took me back to the time when I was 11 years old and my Grandma and I were spending the day together. We stopped by a Walgreen’s and purchased two of the red clown noses and put them on before going to lunch. We ate with our clown noses on and giggled as people looked at us as if we were crazy. My Mom was working just a few blocks down the street so we decided to pay her a visit as well. When my Mom opened the door we stood there talking to her as if nothing was wrong. Being the sport that she is she didn’t mention the noses at all and just continued talking as if things were normal. As we were leaving my Mom said, “You both must have bad allergies!” We laughed and continued on our way.
That day was very special for me and apparently for Grandma as well. (Yes, I kept my clown nose too!) Grandma could have left me all of the jewelry, property and money in the world, but that clown nose and the memory I have is truly priceless.
As I see the people who had gotten married now change their status on Facebook to “Divorced”, and hear of grandchildren who don’t have time to visit their grandparents, I wish for them to have the opportunity to make their own “clown nose” memories like I did…before its too late.