A couple weekends ago Cootiegirl and I went to visit my 97-year-old grandmother (she’ll be 98 in about a week). I made a couple trips to see her last year at this time just to check in on her and see how she is doing (you know, because she’s freakin’ OLD). Last year I thought she was doing fine.
This year, I still think she’s fine (eyesight is near perfect, she can hear a pin drop, and she can still drive (yes, I said it – she DRIVES)), but she’s definitely in need of more help. Her short-term memory is shot and her house was a mess (but then, it always is). Our visit was mainly business (read: me making sure she’s okay), but with Cootiegirl there they were able to have fun and play cards together while I did things like clean her dishes (which were piled up HIGH in the sink) and rid her fridge of old food that shouldn’t be eaten. Surprisingly, the fridge wasn’t too bad – only one trash bag of stuff to be tossed. The most surprising thing was how much CANDY was in that fridge. Her two veggie drawers were piled high with bite sized candy bars. Not kidding about that at all.
Another thing I did was set her up with email. She has a computer, which she mainly uses to play solitaire. But I set her up with a free Gmail account and made it so that the inbox is the page that loads when she opens her browser. I then set up her contacts list with all of her family members and sent an email to everyone informing them of her new email address. Within minutes she had six emails in her inbox and she was thrilled as she clicked through them. I told her that in this computer age, many times it’s easier to contact someone via email than it is with the telephone. For the rest of the weekend I’d randomly announce it was time to check email and would send her in to turn on the computer, load up her browser and check her messages. I’m a firm believer that you CAN teach an old dog (or a 97-year-old human) new tricks.
On Saturday night I told her I wanted to go through ALL the mail in her bedroom that was piled up. She agreed to that task, and for the next three hours we sorted through bill after bill after bill. I found a total of 13 bills that needed to be paid, and we filled up 2 trash bags with junk mail and offers to buy coins, clothes, dolls and all kinds of stuff she doesn’t need.
On Sunday morning before church we sat down and wrote out the checks to those bills, and as I headed out of town I took them to the post office myself to put in mailbox. I didn’t trust her to remember to put them in the mailbox herself!
The funniest part of the weekend was our trip to WalMart, during which I made her right in one of those motorized shopping carts. Watching her zip around the store was hilarious because sometimes she’d start to panic and would turn too hard, or other times she was too relaxed and didn’t turn enough and almost took out a couple displays. Then when we went to check out a guy kind of cut in line in front of us, and GGma was staring him down, inching up on him with her cart. I was waiting for her to take him down at the knees, but she never did.
Another part of the weekend was my now-traditional money stash efforts. Lst year I gave up trying to force her to let me pay for anything, and would just put the cash back in her wallet as I left to go out of town. I figured she’d never know and would just think she had a lot of money in her wallet.
But this time I didn’t have to be so sneaky. I kept a running tally of the money she spent on us and at some point put a couple twenties in her wallet as a primer. Then a while later she was going through her purse and opened up another pocket in her wallet that had a stash of cash. When she left the room, I quickly put another $40 in that pocket. Then still later, she called me into another room and asked me to help her find something.
“What?” I asked.
“Well, I normally keep some secret money right in there, but I can’t find it. Can you look?”
Within about 5 seconds I found her secret stash. A very healthy stash, given the simple life she leads. And so the next morning, before we left, I put the last of the money I wanted to give back to her in there. In the end, she happily thinks she paid for the entire weekend when in matter of fact I did.
A couple days after I got home I called her and had her check her email while we were on the phone. She was thrilled to find 3-4 more messages in her inbox. I also invited her to think about moving to South Carolina if she decides not to go to Colorado where my aunt and uncle just moved. We’re now planning a visit for her to come to visit us for four days in late January, during which I’ll take time off from work and show her around my town and all it has to offer little old ladies like her (I say that in love. C’mon – she’s almost 100!!!!).
The good news about her coming to visit us? I can pay for everything without having to hide money in her wallet before she leaves.