So much has changed during the 4-ish years our family has been gone from Texas.
One of the big things is that my grandparents moved from an assisted living to a nursing home.
A very similar thing happened with Gary's mom who was just a few years younger than my grandparents. I leaned all the things my parents are learning now when it all started with Gary's parents. It is not something you can ever prepare yourself for and in a nut shell it pretty much sucks.
Gary's mother had physical health issues worse than my grandparents. My grandparents both have memory loss, but they are healthy for the most part. It is very hard to see the people who had such a positive influence on your childhood not even know who you are. Heck y'all, they aren't even real sure who they themselves are. My grandma didn't realize my dad got married and wasn't sure who my mom (her daughter in law) was. Eeyeyeye!
My grandpa looks so frail. He was shivering and it wasn't even really cold in the room. He was sleeping quietly and seemed just like the grandpa I remember, but he isn't. His hair was much longer than I remember and he wasn't wearing his glasses. I could really see his blue eyes shining, but there was no expression. His face was clean shaven and he had a bandage on his arm he kept fiddling with. I've heard he has bad moments of irritability and grouchyness. I think I'd be irritable too if I had to sit in a wheel chair all day long. The nursing home is just a sad place and it breaks my heart. My grandpa wants to be out working and doing man stuff, but that isn't his reality. The nursing staff is awesome and do the best they can to help him feel like he's working. The get him to put his flannel shirt on by telling him he's heading to work. I think he is getting good care, but it's still sad.
My grandmother looks very different. Her skin has a pretty glow and her eyes are a wonderful blue. I don't think I ever realized how blue they are. I don't remember ever looking at her and seeing her without makeup or jewelry. Her hair wasn't curled and coated with spray-net. I looked at her and remembered all our phone calls. I remember her asking about Layla and Hayden back when she actually remembered them. I think back to the long chats we had when I was a kid. I remember standing on a step stool and making mac-n-cheese or scrambled eggs. She would always encourage me and she was a great listener.
I think for me I have to stand there in the moment of reality and remember all the memories because they can't. I want to remember them enough for us all. I know they would be proud of me and who I am today. When I'm an aging parent I want my kids kids to remember me and the way I spoke to them and the fun we had. I know they will see me in my shell of a body, but I'm doing things now to help them have more in the future harder days. We're all going to get old y'all.
While I was standing there talking to them both yesterday I couldn't help but focus on their hands. Their hair, faces and facial expressions look so different. Their posture has failed, and their legs are tired. But their hands still folded and laid flat and twisted and fiddled with their wheel chairs. Their hands. The hands that helped me and hugged me. The same hands that have touched so many lives, written so many recipes and built so many projects in the garage.
I just had to grab my iPhone and take a picture of their hands.