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Gran and Dusty Peepers as a chick

Gran and her pet chicken Dusty Peepers, as a chick

Tonight, I am writing a little off topic, please bear with me, as I work out some thoughts out here in the public arena.

My Grandmother has always been there for me, from the time I was born to the present. In June of 2008, she fell. She wasn’t  hurt, but she wasn’t able to get up for a long while and was shook up as a result. At the time she was 92.

My dad and step mom have been living near her for quite some time. More accurately, she has been living near them for quite sometime. She moved here in 1997  from the San Francisco Bay Area, where she spent most of her life. She was in her 80’s at the time and incredibly self-sufficient. Since then, time has passed, as it is inclined to do. My step mom teaches full time and my dad is fairly disabled himself. When she fell last year, it became clear to that my step mom needed help. It was no longer enough to check in on her in the evenings and on weekends. My step mom has been wonderful and amazing, but Gran’s care is no longer a one, or even two person job.

I was teaching in a full-time tenured job when she fell in June. Contracts renew every year in July where I was, so I had a very short time to make the decision to move or to stay with my children where we were. We had finally bought our first house (With help from my gran) on five acres, and I had a solid teaching job. Things were pretty good for us, but, in truth, there was an air of discontent. My son has Asperger’s syndrome and hadn’t  completed a full year of school since 6th grade (that’s five years). While it is true I had a very good teaching job I loved in a school community I respected and enjoyed, it was also true that I was a single parent raising two children on my own and working more than full time. We lived in a very rural community and were any where from half an hour to an hour away from our closest friends and family. I am not entirely sure how things would have panned out if we had stayed, but when Gran fell, it seemed to me that the only thing was to take a leave of absence from my job, or barring that, resign, and come here and help out. It was a very tough decision, as we had moved to Nevada, in large part, to be closer to family, there dad, my sister and her family. The move here would take us farther away from our friends and family there.

I ended up resigning my position and packing up my two children, our dog, cat and turtle (the chickens we gave to a good friend) and moving here, to Fort Bragg, California to help. Initially, we lived with my grandmother, in her house. We were not able to settle in terribly well, as she, like I, has a lot of stuff and has been living alone most of her adult life with the exception of her own, somewhat short, marriage and the years she spent taking care of her parents. It was hard to combine our households, not just because of stuff, but because of personalities, and individual needs. My son needs a lot of down time and quiet to function (I think this is pretty true of me as well). My grandmother is quite deaf and listens to the television loudly enough to be heard outside, as a result. By the end of the first week of school, my son had shut down completely. I think it was a combination of the (abrupt change, the noise, the lack of familiar surroundings, and the lack of control over his own environment among other things. By the time I think my grandmother was feeling a bit cramped, as we all were.

Flash forward a year later. My son completed his first full year of school in six years, with good grades. He, along with his sister and I have just finished acting in a local little theater production, which seems to have done wonders for him in terms of self confidence and social skills. My daughter has adapted well and has made a number of good friends and is fitting in nicely. I have been able to spend not just more time, but more quality time with my children than I have been able to since they were infants, and my grandmother seems to be doing well, over all.

The conundrum, now is that my grandmother has been having problems with her legs of late, a sort of aphasia, in her legs, as it were. She speaks of telling her legs to move and them not responding. Today, she was stuck standing in her kitchen for nearly an hour, as she couldn’t navigate her walker and coordinate her legs into a position wherein she could be seated. There she stood, stuck by her refridgeratoe, standing on ninety-three-year-old legs for nearly an hour. Finally, she pushed her life line and the good folks on the other end called my parents house. My Step-mom called me, and between the three of us we got her back to her chair in the living room. This is not the first time this has happened to her. I noticed it a month or two ago, but this is the first time it has left her stranded for such a long time, and in such a dangerous way.

My conundrum is, what do do . I know someone that might be able to come and stay with her nights, in exchange for room rent, but I am not sure either of them would be terribly happy with the arrangement. Gran expressed some trepidation after the idea was proposed. She has been independent for so long and she feels like this is admitting she can no longer live alone. Also, she has lived alone for so long, she is not sure she can live happily with someone else in the house, especially as stranger.

I am not sure what the right thing to do is, but the kids and I are playing around with the idea of living in two houses at once, as it were. At least for a little while.

I am just going to sit with this a while and see what feels right. I think I made the right decision last year. I hope I will be able to again.

Four Generations of Family

Four Generations of Family

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2 Comments

  1. I know a wonderful woman, Janice Wallace, who does eldercare coaching (in person or on the phone) and provides a free half-hour consultation, too! I’ve used her services, and recommend her highly when trying to work out difficult situations like this.

    You can contact Janice at eldercoach@sbcglobal.net or 415-661-3271. Her web site is http://www.caringforcaregivers.com.

    • Thank you Jeri, very much.
      I will talk with my parents and I will contact her.
      Thank you for the information as well as for visiting my blog.


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