Here in the land of wooden shoes and windmills, the weather is cloudy with attempt to sun rays. For days it was rather misty. But in my area the mist seems to have cleared up a bit.
This weekend was the time for yet another gathering of the Coffee and Cookies Club. Another weekend to spend time with my father and grandmother. My brother was supposed to join us, but he got sick. But tomorrow he will try to be at the Club too.
My grandmother seemed to do well, given her condition. Conversations are rather minimal, though… We greet eachother, “Hello, nice to see you again”, followed by a kiss on the cheek. Followed by “How are you?” and “Have you slept well?” Of course remarks about the current weather are shared.
Sometimes we look at family pictures to see whether she recognizes the faces. She usually mixes up my father with her late husband. Which is rather painful for my father.
After that, grandmother goes into repeat about whatever it is that occupies her at that moment. From her walker, to going to the bathroom or the birds flying passed her window. And otherwise, she just goes silent.
Since I am not much of a talker myself, after a while I just go through the house to look for chores.
My dad sits with her often and likes to give her peppermints. He usually puts them in her purse for her. We assumed that she would share the peppermint with her fellow elderly friends down at the Retirement Home where she hangs out during weekdays.
Today when I was cleaning out her stuff and searched her purse, I discovered about 10 rolls of peppermint. Clearly, grandmother does either not look into her purse or when she does she has no idea what the (to her) mysterious rolls in her purse are.
During lunch, grandmother revealed that she enjoys her view of the neighborhood most from her diningroom window. How small her world has become eversince she got older, that she often feels rather lonely. That she goes to bed earlier these days, out of boredom. Just a moment of a clear state of mind. It was nice that she was able to speak those thoughts out oud. How unfortunate though, that she feels alone and cage up in her apartment.
Visiting her 2 times a month feels like not enough. Thankfully the other members of the family visit her in the other weekends and 2 days during the week. Thankfully she visits the Retirement Home 4 days during the week. Thankfully there are nurses helping her 3 to 5 times a day… But I cam imagine that in the moments when grandmother is all by herself, that it can be quite lonesome. And that does break my heart.
Each time when we have to say goodbye, it feels gutwrenching when she says “What about me? Why do I have to be all alone?” I try to comfort her each time again that she will have visitors over soon and that she has fun activities awaiting her at the Retirement Home not much later.
At the same time, I know that for my own mother I would not want this. My mother will never have to be old and alone. If only my grandmother’s children would have that same mindset. But unfortunately, all I can do is be there 2 times a month.