I always thought of blogs as being narcissistic, business related, or as my sister's, a way of keeping in touch or memorializing.

But, by necessity, I am learning a lot about myself. I find I need to get my thoughts out, and it helps me to know that someone else will read them. So I have created this little space for myself, to express the things I have trouble saying (be it emotional or physical trouble), to share what I'm going through, and what I'm learning through it.

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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Facing Old Age - forebodings about my grandmother

My mother, having lost both of her parents many years ago, gets very frustrated when she feels my father's family takes theirs for granted. My dad's dad passed 5 years ago, at a good age, in a good way. In spiritual terms, it was a powerful death - he went knowingly, and gracefully. That didn't make it much easier mind you, to lose someone as strong and influential to our family as he was.

My grandmother changed when he died. She had to, being on her own for the first time in her entire life. Over 80 years of living under her father and husband's rules. Now she lives according to her values. Since then, she has gathered her whole family around her twice (no easy feat, believe me), and has continued to go on yearly trips to Mexico with her four children. She is fiercely proud of her offspring - all 23 of us, and takes every possible opportunity to brag about us.

Up until now, she has continued to live in her condominium, on her own. Before they moved to Canada, in my father's footsteps, my grandparents were very active, socially and politically in their community. They were very respected, and always involved. When they came here, it was to a different life. They learned some English (more than they let on) and made some friends, but mostly lived within their four walls and a small community of Mexican ex-pats.

At 92 years old, my grandmothers one real complaint is arthritis. This week, it got so bad that she hasn't slept or eaten, and has not been able to keep down the little she can ingest. She suddenly cannot walk or stand. The pain is such that she has visited the hospital, and tried several medications. Between my father, aunt and uncle, she has had somebody with her almost all the time since late last week. My mother has been tending to her daughters and grandchildren, who as you know are also in need of support right now.

It seems that her short run of independence is over. It is unlikely that she will recover, not to the point that she can continue to live independently. And so for the first time, my family faces the crisis of old age.

And ironically, my father becomes the first of us to take part in the sandwich generation. It was supposed to be me and my sister, but it has fallen to him, to balance caring for his suddenly ailing mother, his chronically ailing daughter. 67, and still president of his company, he finds himself responsible for a great many things. He is becoming the new patriarch of our family. We joke, about his godfather status - our children call him "Tocayo"* - and variations thereof (tocayo grande, tocayote, toqui, toquini, toc - and the younger ones cocayo, coqui etc.) - I call him "Il Toquino" (as in Il Padrino - we're both big fans of the trilogy).

I don't know what will happen with my grandmother, but I have a real sense of foreboding. I hope it is just about her moving or having someone move in. I hope that's all it is. But I can't shake it and I've learned to listen to these things. It just seems that when elderly people start to need hospitals, it's usually because they're just about done with this world.

Normally, I would be there, at her house, taking my turn tending, as everyone else. When my grandfather passed, I spent hours and hours with her. My son and I would keep her company, and I would call almost every day. I wish I could still do that, carry my weight and all. But my father told me on the phone this morning in no uncertain terms that we all wish for all kinds of things, and that I can't be there, and that I need to be working on healing. Period. Nothing else. So there it is. I've been told. By Il Toquino himself.

I am to concern myself primarily with my health, and if there is something I can do to support him and her from the comfort of my couch, they will tell me. In the meantime, I am thinking of her, and sending whatever vibes I can my father's way, wishing him and his siblings the strength to deal with what is coming.

I always loved her, but in recent years I came to like her, not just tolerate and love her. She still has plenty to offer besides knitting and cooking advice, and 40 year old gossip. But life is life, and what will come will come. I just hope it doesn't come too soon.
* Tocayo - my own definition - a slangy term used in Mexico to refer to somebody of the same name, but is not at all the same as namesake. Tocayos find a common bond in their shared name that I have yet to feel anywhere else in the world. It is used only among men. My son is named after both of his grandfathers, and so when he was born, my dad looked at him and said "hola Tocayo" and that's been it

1 comment:

  1. To know how to grow old is the masterwork of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great act of living.
    ~~~Henri F. Amiel~~~

    For the blessing of having had her in your lives this long.Show your strength like she has shown hers.

    I am thinking of all of you every day. I love you.