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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Beauty at Any Age

Wrinkle's? Anti-aging? Thinking of my grandma's and what it means to be ninety-eight and not even look it. I'm in my hometown for a last minute impromptu surprise visit with my new baby to see the great-grandmas.  They didn't even know I was planning to visit, well neither did I until about 18 hours before my flight!
Both my Grandmas.

Well the very cheerful palliative care nurse came to my grandma's room at the nursing home to have "the talk" with the grownups ie. my mom and her siblings.

I had just arrived from my flight with my baby. I knew the talk was coming up so I actually really wanted to leave the room. However I was settled in so snugly in grandma's extra comfy recliner chair with my baby strapped to me so I actually had to overcome great inertia to move. I had many questions and the nurse Kathy had all the answers.

This is my grandma who once lived with us and made breakfast for us, packed my lunch, brushed my hair into ponytails and walked me to the bus stop... and swept the floors a million times a day and made all kinds of traditional Chinese "bao go" while we were at school... and never stopped moving or working for one second; well now she's sitting quietly and relaxed finally... and holding my baby too!

The nurse took one look at my grandma and cheerfully declared, in my experience she does not look like her time is imminent, she is sitting up and talking to you, she is very nourished, glowing and she is breathing well, but you folks have described a list of what people tend to do when their bodies know the time is near. Of course, the best scenario is when it happens peacefully in the night, we all want that, but we won't know...

These words were so hard to hear yet she described them so matter of fact and cheerfully I didn't even feel sad. So they decided it was not appropriate to move her to palliative care (up until that point I didn't even know what that word meant) and just let her be happy where she is.

In fact, I even watched her change the battery for her one tiny hearing aid all by herself. I was too busy staring with my mouth half open in surprise to even offer to help. Such amazing dexterity!

FOUR signs when things are coming to an end, these signs exhibited.

1) The need to gather everyone.
Grandma was asking everyone to come immediately, call Kim (my sister, favorite granddaughter) call all the children. Obviously she didn't ask for me by name, but I realized  that I should come and see her.

2) Withdrawing from Life
Two weeks ago, grandma was playing bingo and croquet in the main games area, something I have never ever imagined she would like to do. Then after her fall (no broken bones) her mood changed, she didn't even go outside for meals or the big room for TV. Suddenly she became very attached and needy and always asked for mom to be at her side.

3) Anxious at night
It's dark, it's quiet, less activity, less distractions, trouble sleeping.

Think of a young child (like Lincoln age 2.5) looking for mommy right after school, first thing in the morning, even in the middle of the night or unable to fall asleep. The same thing, an old woman calling for her daughter.

4) Loss of appetite
I got the impression she was giving up on eating because she seriously thought she was dying so why bother eating. That or maybe she was just protesting the hospital food, lol.

I visited my other grandma too, about 11 years younger. I am still inspired daily by her love for Jesus and dedication to the faith, her strong and encouraging words. As well, she should be the official spokesperson for Pond's - the skincare of octogenarians!


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