Day 68 - Photo 68. This is my grandmother. She's 94-years-old and she's spent the last six days in the hospital. Her name is Helen Sforza. She was born Yolanda Rose DiVincenzo, at least, that's the story I've been told. The only reason I mention this, is I believe there is real power in a name.
Grandma's feeling better. And it's quite amazing the change from just a few days ago. She's still in the hospital. But, she knows where she's at and knows who we are. We're still not sure what brought her here, or exactly when she'll be out of the hospital, which is fine. We want her to get better. But, there in lays the question. What to do with grandma?
For the past 13 years my grandmother has lived with my parents. As we prepare for her to come out of the hospital she's going to require 24-hour care. None of us ever thought or prepared for this day. Not really. Not that it would look like it does right now. My parents are in their 70's. And while they're still active, neither one of them have the strength or training to properly care for my grandmother. It's easy for me to say and write down the words that this decision is not easy. It is another thing altogether to make the decision and even more difficult to take the action. My wife and I along with my brother and his wife are helping. Mostly through support and love. But, ultimately the burden and pain of that decision lay with my mother and father. I suppose we all have some idea of how we'd like to be treated when our day comes. I suppose that, the idea of how we'd like to be treated, is part of the pain and angst that comes with the decision and action that now lay ahead of us.
Today was nice. Grandma was feeling pretty good. When we arrived for a visit she was sitting in a chair next to her hopital bed. My son's Domenick and Noah sat nearby and asked her questions, mostly about how she was feeling, was she cold, was she hungry, had she eaten. And for some reason Noah asked her about the days when she and my grandfather had made "moonshine." Yup, that's right...moonshine. My grandmother smiled and happily answered Noah and Domenick's questions about those days long gone by. We talked, shared and laughed. Soon my grandmother tired and under her own power and the aid of a walker managed to get herself to the edge of her bed. I lifted her feet the rest of the way on to the bed and a nurse arrive to help me lift grandma all the way on to the bed. And then, as suddenly as she had brightened to tell stories she was done, exhausted, all her strength gone. She was ready for sleep. She knows that change is coming and I think she's accepted it. I know she's not happy with it. But, it seems she's accept the coming change with a grace and diginty I'd forgotten she had. I think I'd forgotten who she really was. Because whether she was born Yolanda Rose or Helen the names I'll always remember are the names from the stories she's shared; daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother.