Monday, May 26, 2014

The Time I Tried to Go to Folklife but Ended up with Grandfather Instead via my Dentist's Receptionist

Grandfather is the man sitting.

These past few weeks have been so sunny, so good that I forgot what lows are....

like when you walked down Lake City Way, crying your eyeballs out into puddles of goo and then sob on the bus and then tear up some more in Bothell.

Welcome to my Friday morning.

I woke up, lacking in restful sleep, in my parent's home, with a headache to a rainy scene and the knowledge that I was to go to Folklife.

I did not, not, not, not want to go.

Not today. Not yet.

And then I had a discussion with mom at about 7:20 AM (on her birthday - Happy Birthday Mom!) about how Grandpa is doing significantly worse. That sort of put me off kilter.


Do you ever mistake your emotions or confuse them or react inappropriately?

Well, my sadness over Grandpa got sort of translated into anger and I turned into Miss Grumpy-pants. It was bad.

It was the sort of bad that find me standing barefoot in our backyard in the pouring rain in my shorts for extended periods of time, afraid to move because, if I do, I don't know exactly what I'll do.

And it was also the sort of thing that drives me to think that I don't deserve to have any friends - that I shouldn't have any friends, because, ultimately, I am a awful, horrible person. I don't say this so folks can say, "No! You're not!" because I am. I'm disgusting. I really don't think I deserve friends at all. I'm a selfish brat that is best off living in the woods by herself and eating oatmeal for eternity - although maybe oatmeal is too good for me because I like oatmeal. Maybe it would be an eternity of sloppy joes.

(this is sort of a warning to folks -- don't be near me or get close to me)

So I've got this inner turmoil going on, but also an obligation to get Hannah to and from Folklife Festival, a rad thing in Seattle. We'd decided to take Tobbit to the mainland so I could get work done - but this meant that we would be busing. If we'd taken Hannah's car, she'd be independent and could drive herself to Seattle, but now it would be public transportation, something she has very little experience in. With little experience comes unknowns and with that comes not-being-comfortable-with-it - so I was going to go with her over and back the first time so she could get the rhythm down. I wanted to make sure she was comfortable.

And then I woke up like this.
And things happened like that.

And I was just being silent. Hannah knew a lot was up and she let me do my thing. I was so grateful to her the next day.I was apologizing and instead of laying on the guilt, she said, "I just wanted you to feel better." Or something on that page. Needless to say, but going to say it anyway, Hannah is an incredible friend. She let me work through it and didn't take it on her shoulders to try and fix me so she would feel better.

It was on the bus that I broke down. I was cold, staring straight ahead, and then I let on that I got news that Grandfather isn't doing so well. I started to tear up. In case you were wondering, biting your lip does little to prevent tears. "Can I give you a hug?" she asked. "I'm ok," I told her. She told me she could figure out how to get there just fine so I got off at the next bus stop in Lake City.

Then I cried some more.
Fred Meyer, then cried.
Got on the bus, cried.
Got off the bus in Bothell and sobbed loudly as I tried to thank the bus driver for the ride.

It sort of came out like this, "Thaannnnkkkbahhhhhhhh *tearshaketear* I'mmm sorrry," and I ran off.

I was now on the streets of Bothell, trying to think of what sort of Mom-figure I could find, or anyone that I could be with as opposed to crying to the construction men working on the streets. A few folks came to mind, but I assumed they wouldn't be home.

Then I remembered Ella.
Ella is the receptionist at my dentist's office. She's Ukrainian. My dentist is Colombian. Everyone there seems to come from another country. I love my that place.

So I walked over to my dentist.
At this point, I'd strolled around a mile and was sort of learning to keep it together.

Walking in felt so comforting and we talked about Grandfather and варе́ники. I told her I had made them and she gave me a new recipe idea to make, involving my favourite Ukrainian dumplings.

Next time you're crying and can't stop, I recommend going to my dentist's receptionist and talk about dumplings, you just might feel better. I did.

Then, I knew it was time to go see Grandfather. I wandered up Bothell with a quick stop at Mill's Music to pick up the sheet music to Erik Satie's Gymnopédies. Up Mainstreet, down across the bridge, here and there and then I was where Grandfather lives.

I grabbed some coffee, hoping it would give me something to think about or distract myself with. Wishful thinking, Margaret, wishful thinking. When I got there, they were in the process of feeding Grandfather. he couldn't really sit up straight on his own and his speech was filled with long stutters. He would twitch every so often and couldn't always get the cottage cheese down.

"Hi Grandfather, I came to visit you," I tried to say before quickly spitting out a, "I have to go the bathroom...." and ran away. In the bathroom, I tried five times to dry my tears and go back, putting on a strong front for Grandfather. He didn't need to see his grandaughter sobbing to let him know how bad he is. I wanted to run away and go home, but I knew it was better to spend time crying with Grandfather than have no time at all. Each time I'd think, "Ok, I got this," the crocodile tears would form and I'd crumble all over again.

Finally, I breathed long and deep and felt ready.

"Hey Grandfather, I'm back."

The staff asked me about Alaska. They asked me more questions. It was a nice distraction.
I watched them feed Grandfather and wished it was me because I knew I could do it with a bit more love.

Last year, I was one of Grandfather's care provider's and we spent a lot of time together.

After his meal, they rolled him to his bed so we could hang out and he could rest.

We spent the next few hours together. We talked a bit and read. I'd lie down next to him in bed and count the spaces between breaths (we got up to 40 seconds) when he slept. Then he'd wake up and we'd talk a bit more. The book I read to him was his father's journal which was quite thorough and exact. Certain posts would make Grandfather cry.

"Grandfather. The other day I went to the 151st annual highland games in Victoria and, as I was locking up my bike, I just started to cry. Then I cried five more times because I thought the music was beautiful. Grandfather, I'm becoming more and more like you as I get older."

My Grandfather cries a lot at pretty things and touching news (like when I won senior division of the Pacific Northwest Teen Square Dance Festival in calling... very touching). I'm not quite as easily triggered as him, but it does happen more frequently. It freaked me out at first but now I'm pretty used to it.

I don't cry when most things upset 'cept when my grandparents aren't doing well. I do cry at music quite frequently and without warning.

Someone brought in some cake for us and I mashed it up and fed it to him, little bite by bite. I made sure he had enough water and saw that he actually was pretty good at eating. That was encouraging.

I feel torn. I'm not ready for him to go, but I am. Seeing how he is now, I wouldn't wish it on him to stick around this earth much longer. I don't see what he's doing as "living." If he were to die tomorrow, I would cry, mourn, and be sad, but I wouldn't wish that he had stuck around for a few more months. I'm going to miss him regardless of when he dies. For all I know that could be in a year or two or it could be next week. I'm do know that I'm grateful for the time I've had with him and that I had the honour of getting to know my grandfather. I was talking to someone two days ago and their reply was, "I never knew my grandfather." Which did make me think, "Dude, I am pretty blessed to have 23 years of getting to know my granddad." It doesn't make it easier, but it adds in more gratitude, which is a good seasoning for many situations.

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