Being in deep East Texas last week brought back vivid memories of times I spent hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
Making my trip even more poignant was the fact that this was my first time to visit Grandma at the nursing home. On our eighty mile trip there and back, the red dirt roads crisscrossing the highways reminded me of the peach orchard at their old place. I can still see the trees in full bloom, laid out in nice rows with the ground hot and red underneath. We’d play endless games of hide and seek out there in the orchard. My weeks at Grandma’s would always leave me with feet stained red.
I also remember dusty afternoon and evenings playing at the racetrack. My uncle raced stock cars. Even though I was a little tyke, I knew how to cheer for Number 33. Grandpa passed away eleven years ago, but I I can still hear the roar of those engines and see the grease on his hands as he and my uncle built and rebuilt that car.
I’d go with Grandma to the fabric store to pick out a pattern and then sit at her side as she sewed me a pretty new dress. She made the dress I wore when I was a flower girl. It came almost to the floor and had a beautiful sheen. Grandma has always been a woman of many talents, just as comfortable creating fantastic meals in the kitchen as she was tickling the keys of the piano. She never learned to read music but was able to play numerous instruments by ear. Her beauty — inside and out — wins the hearts of everyone who meets her.
I know my tenses are mixed throughout this blog today. This is intentional. Because although my Grandma is still blessing the world with her beautiful smile, dementia has taken away her ability to choose words. She uses the word “thing” a lot when she can’t think of the word she’s looking for. Writing and reading are also skills she has lost, yet she loves leafing through magazines. Pictures captivate her attention. Numbers have no meaning, so while she can physically drive, she can’t obey the speed limit. She doesn’t cook anymore, or drive, or sew. She loves on and takes care of her new husband — those two are like little lovebirds all the time. Some days she remembers songs to play on the piano. However, she rocked the lobby with “I’ll Fly Away” while my mom and daughter and I sang. That’s a precious moment I’ll keep in my heart.
Even though her words may be mixed up, love still shines in her smile.
I love my grandma and am so glad I got to wrap my arms around her shoulders last week. She used to be taller than me, but now some osteoporosis has humped her back somewhat, so she is shorter than I am. The time for our visit ran out too soon. She walked us to the doors and stood there, waving at us as we drove away. I cried then, big drops splashing down my face. For some reason seeing her standing there pressed up against the glass door pulled a piece of my soul away from me. I hate that she has to be there. I wonder if she understands why she can no longer drive a car or be independent. I wonder if the nurses help her remember how to wash her hair and brush her teeth…if they are alert for any signs of illness because if she feels bad, she may not be able to communicate what hurts.
Right now, I choose to lay aside worry. The Lord above who cares for the sparrows also cares for my grandma. Her faith in Him has always been strong. She’s the one who taught me to speak,
Get thee behind me, Satan!
when troubles came across my life. That one phrase describes how she dealt with conflict and trouble, whether it was a person who threatened or a thought that wasn’t aligned with God’s Word. She knew the Lord had her back. I know He has her back, still, wherever she may be in her mind along Memory Lane.