Not saying that I am the one to write that series, but I can spot good material when I see it.
I spent all of Saturday morning and on into the afternoon helping my aunt and uncle and grandma haul, unpack, wash, and organize my grandma's possessions as she moved from the house she has lived in for over 50 years to the independent living facility she is now calling home. Going through all of the things she's accumulated over the years (and none of it junk. I come from one OCD family who does not hold on to junk.), deciding what was going and what was staying took an emotional toll.
Not one photo will be going on her new walls, despite the fact that photographs cover the walls in her finished basement. She decided that she can't fit them all, and if she can't fit them all, none will be going.
|My grandma is on the left.|
She's big on not showing favoritism, even though we all know who the favorites are.
|This guy is numero uno.|
She still has the statue from Grandpa's funeral.
It didn't make the cut.
Although 16 wine glasses, 16 drinking glasses, and a variety of other specialty glasses did.
For when she has people over.
At one point we were at the house regrouping, standing in the front family room. She handed me some papers and asked me to put them on the table. As I turned to do what she asked, it hit us both. There is no table in the family room anymore. That was the table she chose to take as her kitchen table at the new place. We chuckled a bit, but it was more an uncomfortable "shoot, this is really happening" moment.
|Grandma and Grandpa|
We had decided that we were not going to fuss or argue with my grandma about what she wanted to move. If she wanted to bring 6 lamps, we'd pack them up and take them, even though we knew they wouldn't fit. She hates clutter and would figure out on her own that there was a problem. She could decide which ones needed to be taken back to the house.
|Grandma with three of her four kids celebrating New Years Eve. My dad is on the far right.|
In the midst of all the unpacking, my aunt, grandma and I went to have a look at her storage area.
Basically, there is one gigantic room broken up into smaller areas with wood and chicken wire. Everyone on her floor has her own chicken wire storage unit.
It started innocently enough with my aunt saying, "Oh, look at the shelves this person has. That would be a great way to organize your things."
And then one of us mentioned, "This woman hangs her out-of-season clothing in her storage unit. That's a good idea."
But then we started noticing specific things people chose to keep.
A boot one would wear after breaking one's foot.
A small carpet remnant.
When we were up to our elbows in decision making on what stays and what goes. When Grandma is having to choose which of her beloved books can move with her. When holding our emotions in was becoming harder and harder, the situation became ridiculous.
We were trying not to judge.
We were trying to be polite.
But when we saw that someone had not only kept a bed pan (with a "tube" attachment to make it easier for men to use), but had it front and center in his unit, we couldn't hold it in any longer.
Oh did we laugh.
We laughed so hard the tears were running down our cheeks and our legs (if you know what I mean).
We took note of the room number and told Grandma to watch out for that guy.
To be fair, through our unmuffled laughter, we tried to come up with a logical explanation for such a situation.
We pictured a man who had spend some time in the hospital, restricted to his bed.
We figured it cost quite a bit of money to be in that situation.
We assumed the guy was not happy about being laid up for so long for so much money.
We decided that when he was finally discharged from the hospital, he was mighty grumpy.
In a fit of anger, he grabbed the bed pan and declared, "I paid $300 for this thing. I'm keeping it!"
When he got home, he (or a relative) just tossed it into the storage unit.
Where it stayed for us to see.
It was the perfect distraction and a great way to release some of the tension of the day.
We left the storage unit grateful to the guy in unit ***.
We continued with our work of sorting and organizing and hauling.
Every time we left the room, friendly people spoke with Grandma.
Early in the day, a woman stopped to chat.
After my grandma shared her name, the woman said, "I know you! You used to be my hairdresser!"
That makes five people my grandma knows from days gone by who are living in this facility.
|Grandma, Grandpa, my siblings and me. Based on this post, I bet you can guess which one is me.|
Grandma figured out the layout of the facility.
She knows where the dining room is in relation to her room.
She knows where the elevator and the laundry room and the mail room are.
She has a lot of her things.
She has people whom she knows.
She will be OK.
She will have fun.
We will all worry less.
|Grandma at her 80th birthday party. 10 years ago.|
Close to the end of my stay, I went to get the car while Grandma stayed in the facility's entryway. When I got back, she had a look of delight mixed with mischief on her face. She was bursting to tell me the story.
As she waited for me to get the car, a fellow resident struck up a conversation with her. Just like when we moved into the dorm back in college, the important information to exchange includes your name, where you are from, and in which room you currently reside.
"Chris, she lives in room ***!" The bedpan guy is married!
Yes. I'm pretty sure she'll be fine.
|My last look at Grandma's house before I fled town. The blizzard had begun!|