Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Angels and Little Children

I'm back from my somewhat exhausting trip to see my grandmother.

I had a wonderful time, she was so sweet and childlike, and she seemed so happy to have me there.

One of the things challenges of the weekend was listening to the tales of small children who come to visit her. Now I've always been the willing ear to her visions. Years ago when I visited she confided in me that her mother was coming to visit her in the night. She slept under her bed, and my grandmother worried that she didn't have enough space under there because she has these under-the-bed storage boxes with her extra linens.

Well this visit, the visions seem to have become more intense and a bit more troubling for her. There is one good one: a little girl that runs into her room, on Easter morning, kisses her on the cheek and runs out. Every time my grandmother told me about her, she kept saying "I still haven't figured out what that's all about." In her sweet, sing-songy voice.

The other visions seem to bother her and keep her from sleeping well. I didn't even have my coat off before she started telling me about them. My aunt had told her to give me a tour, and she took me into the bedroom and said, "This is where they have their door." And proceeded to tell me about these little boys that have a secret door into her apartment under her bed. She lives next to a machine room - so for her - the boys come in to bother her and then go slipping out their door when she tries to tell others about them. She's more indignant about these visitors, and more upset that people don't believe her stories. She even told the maintenance men about them and made them check the machine room for the door!

I just listened. Listened with concern and she seemed comforted by that. She talked about them over and over again, each time feeling a bit better and more relaxed.

It must be so hard to survive everyone you feel truly close to, to have been strong, but to now grow old and become sick and failing. Even with her trouble breathing and her awful cough, she still goes to visit my great uncle several times a day and forces him back to consciousness. She needs him, needs to care for him, needs his companionship, and needs a confidant. He was thin, bedridden, and didn't recognize me. But I felt like I said goodbye, so I hope he goes peacefully soon - for his sake, even though it will be so hard for her.

I realized she's a man's woman. Even with all her sisters, her two daughters, and three granddaughters to her two grandsons, she was always closest to the men. For example, her brother Lewis, he's the youngest of their family, and the only one sibling still active. She was so close to my grandfather, their neighbor Kermit, and to my uncle Chuck. Couples were always the male first and then the woman "Lewis and Dell," "Bill and Jeanie," the subtle emphasis on the man. I always felt like my aunt did all the work and my father got all the praise, but I think it was just her flirtatious adoration of the male.

Regardless, I was so glad to see her. So happy to hug and kiss her. So delighted to listen to her. So happy to hear her laugh and see her joke. She was adorable and she tried very hard to be okay. For that I thank her. I want her to be at peace and feel loved and adored. I want it for her and for all of us who love her and find it hard to watch her slip away.

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