My grandmother had a stroke on Sunday. I’ve spent a lot of time at the hospital.
In a way, it is almost nice to see her needing help. My grandmother has been more of a mythical figure than a grandmother. She complained last year (at age 78) that she could only put in 6 or 8 hours of work a day, instead of 16 like she hoped. And by work, this woman raised in the 30s who was doing manual labour in the fields before she was old enough to go to school, she meant work.
She raised 8 kids of her own and many others. She worked the fields, and the dairy barn, raised turkeys and other fowl, and up to this year has maintained a garden and orchard big enough to get all the workers on the farm through the winter.
When she spoke, it was to echo whatever Faux News was ranting about. Or to tell everyone to let her do the dishes. I didn’t have the gift of drawing out her deeper side.
Now, I see her eyes full of the tenderness that she reserves for babies and other helpless animals. Its kinda nice.
She says “thank-you’ now. I don’t know if I have ever heard her use that word. It was always, “You shouldn’t do that. You keep it. I’ll do that.”
It is hard to see this woman defined by her superhuman work ethic unable to get out of bed. Her sharp mind, especially good with numbers, now unsure of her name at times. The uncertainty of whether she’ll improve or take a turn for the worse is frustrating. Seeing fear and confusion instead of determination and stubborness isn’t easy.
But, I like that she is letting others help her. She is affectionate and carresses peoples’ hands. She smiles. She doesn’t say a word about immigrants or government.
And I feel kinda guilty for enjoying that.