Water Fights & Breezy Days

My grandpa’s dementia is progressing.  When we go to see him, and we are still trying to weekly, I never feel like it is enough.  A couple of hours pass by too fast, whether it’s reading to him, talking to him about things, or singing to him, it just all goes by too fast, and it sucks that I only see him once a week.  I’ve thought of making it twice a week, and for the second visit just to drop by to see how he is and say hi.  At least keeping him apart of our life is somewhat doable, but he also misses so much of it.

He was such an incredible man.  He and my grandma took care of me when my mom went back to work when I was 6 weeks old.  I still have the strongest affections for scrambled eggs and sausage, the way he would make it, and my grandma’s particular toast with butter & strawberry jam.  The tastes of those foods immediately remind me of the joy I spent being raised by them.  My grandpa was crazy!  So fun and unpredictable – wild for a grandpa, honestly.  This last Friday when I took my sons to see him we teased him about all his tattoos… he’s still proud of them.  He was a sailor in the Navy after the time of WWII, and his tattoos are an ever present reminder of a past we can only imagine from his animate stories and pictures from when he was younger.  He was so handsome – so uninhibited and funny.  The tattoos still visible on his forearms and upper arm, go so well with his personality and masculinity, even as an 87 year old.  He was one of my favorite people growing up.  It’s hard to see him deteriorate in front of me, like watching a beautiful disaster that one can’t prevent, and yet, he tells me he looks forward to Heaven and gets this excited, boyish gleam in his eyes talking about it.  Sometimes he forgets who I am, but I love how he smiles so satisfied when he finds out I’m his grand-daugher, and that these kids are his great-grandkids.  He smiles, tears up sometimes holding the baby, or laughs his sweet laugh that I miss so much when my son does something comedic.

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This weekend has been full of love and family, spending time together, playing outside together – going on adventures.  Water guns, water fights, baseball and soccer, deep conversations with my dad, seeing my mom cuddle the baby, my dad playing catch with my older son in our backyard.  The beautiful weather we’re having.  It’s just a time of a lot of fullness.  There’s always something to do, always another thing to attend, always a party, always something to clean, or cook, but I love it!  I love embracing the fullness of our life right now.  We are so busy, and yet so happy.  It makes me incredibly grateful for the quiet moments.  My oldest out playing in the sunshine, wearing a king’s crown and wielding a super-soaker, the baby swaddled and sleeping peacefully on his play-mat in the living room.  And me at the kitchen table, drinking an afternoon cup of coffee surrounded by an ambiance of peace.  Such a beautiful place to be in.  Such a beautiful, wonderful life.

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My brother with my son

My brother with my son

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He has my eyes!!!

He has my eyes!!!

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Inspiration

A sense of humor… is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.

Hugh Sidey

My son & I make it a point to visit my Grandpa once a week, he is in a home across town and usually we go on Friday mornings.  I really wish we could see him more.  He is so different from the vibrant, hilarious man I used to know; he doesn’t talk very much, he has the beginning of Alzheimer’s, and he’s often asleep at first when we come to see him… but when he sees us, he smiles again.

This last week we had to come on Saturday in the morning, and I was surprised to see how despondent he looked – maybe he thought we weren’t able to come that week at all, or maybe Alzheimer’s was confusing him again….  Whatever it was, nothing we could do could cheer him up or keep his attention, until I found an old book on his dresser Let Me Tell You a Tale by J. Frank Dobie, curious I showed it to my Grandpa and he immediately broke into a smile.  I asked him if he’d like me to read it and he nodded.

I read to him with animation, “Bigfoot Wallace and The Hickory Nuts,” it was ridiculous Texas folktale that had me laughing after the first page.  Grandpa started to fall asleep, as my 3-year-old pointed out gleefully, but I kept reading enthusiastically anyway, hoping he was just resting his eyes.  He suddenly let out such a loud snore I jumped & almost dropped the book!  My son started it – he burst into laughter at the ridiculous scene of his mother trying to read an animated story to a sleeping & snoring man, that I couldn’t help but join him.

My Grandpa woke up, saw us laughing (I tried to hide it and stop, it just wasn’t happening), and he broke into the biggest smile I’ve seen on his face for long time and asked me if he snored.  I told him Yes, and we all laughed for a long time.  I kept reading the rest of the story to him, teasing him periodically about not sleeping when I’m reading.

Humor, I’m so grateful for it – and blessed are the people who make us laugh, they are the ones who really have found something of value in life.

 

(To read it for yourself along with other Bigfoot stories, click here.)