A few weeks ago I talked about Sylvia and Marie's Grandfather passing away. As a result, Sylvia had to bring her Grandmother to live with her in Alabama. With her dementia progressing, she is not able to take care of herself. We know what an incredibly difficult transition and situation it is when you take on this responsibility - I commend her for feeling such strong accountability for her family. If you have been in this position however, or even if you know someone who has, you will understand there is a flip side to the seriousness and critical nature of the situation.
You just have to laugh.
Comic relief is a necessary thing, folks. So you'll understand I'm not speaking out of disrespect or making light of the situation when I relate these humerous bits.
From the time Sylvia was in Alaska (where Grandmother and Grandfather lived) preparing to bring Grandmother home, she began her campaign to get her Grandmother to quit smoking.
"Once we get to Alabama there's gonna be no smoking. Maybe she'll forget she smokes."
I laughed so hard I choked. Didn't expect that. Then, a few weeks later, this:
"I'm missing three pairs of shoes. Grandmother has a new hiding place and I don't know where it is and neither does she."
Again, laughed so hard I snorted. Seems like when a comic statement is a surprise, it makes it even funnier.
My own Grandmother, who is 104 years old, had a toothache a couple of years ago. At 102 the dentist was not inclined to do anything restorative; his suggestion was to pull the tooth and leave it at that. Over the holidays while we were there, my Mother, having just sat with Grandmother while she ate her lunch, said, "If we'd known Mother was going to live this much longer we might've had that tooth fixed instead of yanked."
Funny stuff. She didn't intend for it to come out funny. Just happened.
Similarly, each year when Grandmother's birthday comes around, my sister and my cousins and I all put our heads together to decide what and where to have the party. For the 104th party planning, I said, "Well lets make it a big one. Might be her last."
My cousin Sheri said, "Oh Caren. We've been saying that for ten years."
Hee hee heeeeeeeeeeeeee. It's not funny. But it IS. IT IS. Every time I visit my Grandmother, when I hug and kiss her goodbye and tell her I love her, I head out the door and get in the car to leave and spend the next few minutes wondering if that was the last time I would ever get to do that. It's so gut wrenching a thought that comic relief is a necessity. I tell myself every single day I get to spend with her is a gift. I'm sure Sylvia tells herself the same thing about her Grandmother.
Some gifts are more valuable and meaningful than others; some come with baggage, some come with strings. The gift of having our seniors comes with humor. Thankfully.