I’m still counting my blessings after spending yesterday afternoon with my mom, Grandma Ruth soon to be 83 and my husband’s mom, Grandma Marilyn, the 90 year-old computer wiz. It was sort of an impromptu adventure. It’s rare that I’m off on a Monday, even rarer that is the “go to” for taking Grandma Marilyn to doctor appointments. She decided after moving close to us, that she wanted to remain independent and make her own way. She managed to find a community volunteer program that accompanies seniors on their appointments.
So, her need for a ride to the eye doctor and my Summer Monday home was sort of a God aligning the planets kind of thing. I pulled up at her senior complex and she made her way out, wheeling her walker. I was standing at the passenger door of my Dodge Ram ready to help her let go of the walker and get her hand on the handle grip. She’s incredibly frail, with long legs and arms, yet she’s deceivingly strong. She’s got stepping up into the truck down to a few cool moves. I am only there with my arms out just in case and to fasten her seatbelt. She hiked up her left pant leg, she said she needed be able to bend her leg easily to step and push. I didn’t question. It was amazing to watch. And once I the seat, she scooted over to the center; her body consumed by the size of the seat. She was accomplished and comfortable.
I rolled her walker to the back, opened the tailgate and struggled with my weak arms to lift and place the folded walker. I thought, as I have often, that I want to have the will to live and do that Grandma Marilyn at 90 has.
I pulled up at the doctor’s office and I had to be certain to take out the walker before opening Grandma’s door. She’s been known to put her hand on the handle grip and swing out of her seat, standing in wait for her walker to arrive. The grandma gumption thing is so very real. I have to operate like a mommy with a toddler, when I’m with Grandma Marilyn. It’s not that they can’t do it, more a “let me help you” sort of approach.
She made her way into the doctor’s office and up to the reception window. She seemed to have celebrity status. I think any 90 year old patient who shows up for Well Care Visits, should be celebrated.
She was in an out faster than she anticipated and we were back in the truck without a hitch. The afternoon was still young; I wanted to take her on a joy ride. And she seemed game. She offered to treat for lunch. I suggested we see if my mom wanted to come along. The two grandmas enjoyed each other’s company so I could sense Grandma Marilyn’s heighten pleasure in the lunch date that was quickly taking shape.
Grandma Ruth, answered her cell phone which within itself was an indicator that God had indeed aligned the planets. She drives and first of all could be anywhere from Long Island to the mall; with her phone being off, in the car or at home. But, it was our day — she answered and she was home!
Grandma Ruth’s condo was our next stop; she was ready to hop in when we pulled up. I got out to help her up into the back seat. As I made my way to the passenger side, I shock my head for the craziness of having the Grandmas in our family truck.
I opened the back door and gathered take-out wrappings, newspapers, athletic gear, tote bags and empty water bottles, from the seat and floor. I knew Grandma Ruth would busy herself with cleaning while taking the joy ride to lunch. She gripped the handle and lifted herself into the truck. A retired nurse, even at her age she still probably had more strength than me.
We made our way to lunch, again out of the truck. I was a mommy, guarding them both. First Grandma Ruth, like the big sister to Grandma Marilyn, the toddler. Grandma Ruth watched Grandma Marilyn while I parked the truck. They kept me on my toes and I was absolutely thrilled!
We tried out a couple of tables and seats before figuring the right fit for Grandma Marilyn and her walker. There was a run to the bathroom. Grandma Ruth offered to go with Grandma Marilyn, but this was all my pleasure.
After lunch, were back in the truck. Their bands on the grip, their willing legs pushing forward. And I was sweeping off to one more stop, a department store I’ve been trying to get Grandma Marilyn to try. I was holding my breath; I felt like I was sort of pushing it. I was so afraid they would pull the plug on our adventure.
Surprisingly, we pulled up in front of the store and they were totally about it. Out of the truck again. This time they didn’t stand and wait for me, they hit the automatic door button and made their way into the store. I watched them, as if watching two teens scurry into the mall. Would I find them, by the time I parked the truck?
I walked in the store and couldn’t spot them, it was all on one level. Seemed easy enough to stand and take it all in. But I found myself moving through the store and looking making my way into the mall. Then I backed tracked realizing that the Gramdmas were 90 and 82; they were not jetting anywhere! I circled back and found them steps from the door, picking out pants and blouses for Grandma Marilyn. It was sort of a shopping frenzy, happening in slow motion. I helped, I was the advanced team, looking ahead on racks and pointing the way, before they could move on.
I think shopping, at any age, makes a woman happy. Grandma Marilyn had had her share of fun for the day. And both Grandmas were ready for the joy ride to circle home.
Grandma Ruth was the first stop. Getting in and out of the truck had become such a natural motion that she seemed to swing her hips out of the truck before I could even get to her side. Hugs and kisses, she was in her stride heading up her walkway pass the Black Eyed Susan’s and Lamb’s Ear.
We were back to the beginning again, at Grandma Marilyn’s. One more lift of the walker out of the truck, one more seasoned pro making her way out of the truck. The same forward motion she had heading out of the her building, she had making her way back up to her apartment.
I hoped back into the truck and felt like the Grandmas had taken me on a joy ride. I hadn’t anticipated how the day would haves unfolded.
I stepped into the day and received a gift; a gift of time and opportunity.
Their embrace of life was and as wholehearted and spirited as the way they held on and stepped up into the truck. I call them the Grandmas, but without question, I hold my mother and my mother-in-law on high. To be in there presence for the afternoon is the blessing that I count over and over again.