Every day when Grandma Jean was in the nursing home, we’d have a dry-erase board for her visitors to tell her who had been there, how long they had stayed, what happened, when they were there and when they were coming back. It turned into a daily journal that she could see from her bed and, for the thousandth time realize that we hadn’t forgotten to come see her. 96% Of the notes were written by my mom and I. By far my mom did most of the work, but I was right behind her picking up the slack and do the tasks she didn’t want to do. Between the two of us we made sure that one of us were there every single day. Five months of everyday visits made for some fun times, (a LOT of sad times too)and that board saw a lot of love a lot of sarcasm, some jokes, and even a quote or two. At the end of those visits, we would write those mini-journal entries on her dry-erase board, prop them by her bed and then after the 30 minute routine of Jammie’s, wash-up, diaper, removal of the teeth and hearing aids, she’d get lifted into bed, and finally read the note, and question, comment, laugh, talk about her day,
That board played an important role in our communication. It opened up so my doors to conversations about the day, about my life. I remember learning more about life in the last six months of her life than ever before. She didn’t know what she was always saying, but a lot of slurred, “it’s a funny, funny world” would slip out. In between moments of total confusion came the short bursts of clarity, where she would tell me things about my son, various boyfriends I brought in, and my future. She would offer little peeks into her life growing up on the farm. I would always sum up what was said on the little white board.
Shortly after gram was gone, and I was siting alone on her recently empty bed, tears blurring the words below, I wrote this:
In a way it made my heart want to break in a trillion pieces, and at the same time, it was just enough to hold those pieces together.