As some of you know my grandmother has been pretty sick lately. Sick enough that L, Cole and I dropped everything (them flying from Seattle, me hopping on a redeye back from a conference in Vegas) to head back to Hamilton last weekend to see her in the hospital. We hadn't been back to Hamilton in almost 3 years, so it was a bittersweet homecoming. As tough as it was, it turned out to be a great, but exhausting trip. After quite a scare on Thursday, my grandmother actually started getting better on Friday, and so we spent some real quality time at her bedside Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Through it all she was in great spirits. My grandmother is an amazing woman, despite her sub 5' size and her sub 90lb weight, she definitely knows what she wants, and will always make it known. As my grandfather used to say (and he wasn't exactly a push over) it was always clear who wore the pants in their relationship. From the time she hit the hospital she was clear with her desires, culminating with the mask that they put on her to help her breathing - that lasted less than a day, and she forced them to take it out as soon as they could. Once that was off, she was talking non-stop! Except of course for the nights she was on the sleeping pill - that was crazy. My dad and I showed up on Saturday morning to the ICU and saw she wasn't in her bed (little scare), then we talked to the nurse and they said she had been transferred to the Cardiac Care Unit (more scare) then we get to the CCU and the dr is in talking to her (big scare) - but then we found out that they had to move her from ICU to free up a spot in the ICU, but there was no greater danger (whew). As we talked we found that not only had they moved locations, but they had also transferred her to a different bed - all without her waking up! I guess she was pretty disoriented when she woke up with a different view!
Oh but the stories - I probably spent 14 hours or so at the hospital, and she kept us entertained through the majority of it. I can't remember all of them, but some of the highlights (names removed to protect the innocent):
- Hearing about my great grandfather taking her to an art gallery when she was 8 years old and seeing the "nudes" and how my great grandmother thought he was crazy
- Hearing about how much of my family gambles - aunts and uncles spending crazy amounts of time and money at the horse track - the time my grandmother won $400 and had to buy drinks for everyone (and the time she gave my aunt crap for only betting $2 on a horse - the price of a pair of nylons)
- Hearing about my dad & his brother as a kid - throwing out all of their trophies, playing "Maggie" on the Accordion for $2 for her dad (my uncle was a North American champion at the accordion), and the stack of "magazines" that had to be disposed of when they moved (they blamed that on one of their friends)
- Hearing about her one trip to Vegas (she was in her 50s) when she fell and scraped up her knee. She walked into the hotel and 2 "working girls" saw her and took her up to their suite, and rinsed out her knee, cleaned her up, and sent her on her way...
- Hearing about the late night Canasta games, a game of Boss where one of my relatives drank an entire bottle of gin (maybe that's where I get it) or the time that her and "Pooch" beat my grandfather and "Porky" at Euchre
- Seeing where I get my people watching gene as she struggled to see past the curtain to watch the code blue happening on the other side...
- Realizing her amazing memory, picking birthdates out of the air, remembering plans that all of her kids have
- Finding out how happy they were that I "finally" got married (I say the wait was worth it)
- Learning that my Grandfather was the sappy one (that must be where I got that from), and she was the stoic one (which I assert is where L gets it, although my dad thinks it's something you learn as a byproduct of child birth:-)
- knowing that she still balances her checkbook by hand at the end of every month (that I didn't inherit)
- Hearing about my great aunt ordering a burger, on square bread, with the crusts cut off, but she didn't want tea because they probably didn't make it right, but that she'd take it anyway, and maybe they should bring my grandmother a cookie (yeah, there were parts I didn't quite follow)
- Reminiscing about all of the grandchildren's weddings - and remembering how upset her sister was that she couldn't go zip trekking at our wedding!
- And lastly seeing all of the love that surrounds her - not just the constant stream of people coming to visit, but also her knowledge, love, and respect for each and every one of them...
There were so many more - I wish I had brought a tape recorder. In any case it was a good visit all around - she did a great job raising an amazing family (if I do say so myself) - and it was great seeing her surrounded by family and friends.
Hang in there Grandma, if anyone can pull through this you can!