On Tuesday night I went to the Legacy House to make sure my Grandma Dunroe ate her dinner. My dad is out of town and Jess filled in on Monday, my turn was Tuesday. Jess had a ball on Monday night. She sat down with Clara (my grandma) and four other ladies. She had the same conversation with them multiple times.
My experience was different.
I was about five minutes late. When I arrived, Clara was sitting at a table, alone, with her grilled cheese sandwich cut up in small squares, cup of hot cocoa already gone, and fritos scattered around her plate.
She looked up at me as I sat down.
She had no clue who I was.
I spoke to her for about thirty seconds. Then I realized that although I was talking loudly, she hadn't heard a word I had said.
She looked very worried about something and ate with her head down.
After about five minutes, she looked up at me and asked, "Do you know anyone from Denmark?"
"No". I shook my head so I wouldn't have to yell over the show tunes being played by a volunteer in the adjoining dining hall.
"My son was born here. My daughter too. My son is over in Denmark." (no, he's on a cruise in Alaska)
"He's been over there for two years" (more like two days)
"I don't know how to help from over here."
"I just don't know how to help."
Obviously I wasn't sure how to help. I wasn't exactly sure what she thought he was doing over there and how she was expected to help.
She ate quietly.
I told her several times, well--yelled at her several times--to "try not to worry about helping him. He's doing just fine."
After a while she asked me where my parents lived. Then she wanted to know where their parents lived.
"My Grandma Bodily lives in an apartment near here. Both my grandpas are dead. My other grandma lives in a place like this."
She nodded as though she understood how that must be.
Interesting. She knows exactly how that must be.
The nursing home aides came by several times to check on Clara. They also yelled so she could hear.
"Would you like some more cocoa Clara?"
She just shook her head, "I just don't know what to say".
After Clara had cleaned off most of her plate, I told her goodbye and headed on my way.
I'm not sure she even realized I was leaving. Nor did she care. She was still worried about how to help her son who has been over in Denmark for two years.
Jess came home laughing at all the enjoyable conversation she had at the nursing home on Monday night. My experience couldn't have been more different.