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Is my grandfather old?

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My grandfather and I had some serious quality time this week and I’m happy to say, I survived and we only had two major upsets. We went to two doctor appointments, Michael’s crafts so he could get pom pom noses for his reindeer and a few coffee trips to Dunkin Donuts. In the middle of all this, I  somehow managed to get in trouble.

grandfather smiling

Tuesday night we were going over the doctors instructions for his eye drops and lets just say, he heard one thing and I heard another. If he could have gotten out of his chair, he probably would have strangled me so I guess it’s a good thing he moves slow. Neither one of my grandparents like to be wrong in front of each other and this time, my grandfather was wrong and I said so in front of my grandmother {GASP!}. Oh the looks and words that came out of his mouth. hehe. Sometimes us girls just need to stick together you know? Don’t worry, I side with him plenty!

grandfather sitting in kitchen

Nice outfit right? A few times this week I asked myself, “is my grandfather old?” He is still very active but his legs, eyes, mind and soul are changing and he is slowing down. It’s so weird to watch someone get old. His body does not bend, move or do anything he wants it to and the frustration that is clearly visible is sometimes sad to see. I joke with him and he jokes right back but today in the doctor’s office it hit me, my grandfather is getting old. He had his regular exam and he called me in the room because he couldn’t get his socks and shoes on so I kiddingly said, “you want me to do it?” He said, “well yes, I can’t!” So I quickly put his socks on and tied his shoes and we were off.

grandfather double knotted sneakers

He loves these sneakers. They are about 20 years old and he refuses to get a new pair.

A couple hours later I listened to a missed voicemail on my cell phone and it was my grandfather flipping out wanting to know when I would be home.  I unknowingly double knotted his sneakers and tied them to tight. He couldn’t get his shoes off! EEEEEK! I couldn’t help but laugh. I told him the only other shoes I tie, besides my own, are my son’s and we double knot! He said, “I’m not six, I’m almost 86!”.

In my mind, time stands still. I still feel like I am a kid and he is still my young, energetic grandfather that I remember as a kid. It’s strange how time all of a sudden fast forwards with the blink of an eye. Do any of you take care of or live with an elderly parent or grandparent? I would love to hear your stories!

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22 Comments

  1. This post made me tear up. Your grandpa reminds me a lot of mine, and he passed away in Sept of 2011. But towards the end he was ill, and myself along with my parents and siblings had to take care of him. He too was a working man and did everything for himself, so having to help him get dress and put his shoes on was hard. He was so proud and would not always ask. Love your blog!!

    1. Hi Mandie! Sounds like you have good memories though and it’s great you were able to help out in the end. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy your weekend πŸ™‚

  2. He’s adorable ! My Dad just turned 88 – I cherish the times we spend together….though he has plans to live to 100! You are very blessed!

  3. Oh Jessica, you are a sweet sweet granddaughter. I have since lost all my grandparents and I only wish I had treasured each moment I spent with them. I lived with my grandmother for one semester in college and it was brutal. I was a little “shitty” teenager and all I could do was focus on all her annoying habits. In hindsight, I know she was just who she is. And, she was the most amazingly giving person. I’m sure it was a big sacrifice for her to open her apartment to me for a whole semester. She who had been happily single and independent for decades. I wish I could go back and do it all over again.

    I’m a little jealous that you get to be close to your family and that you children get to grow up with them. We are lucky that my in laws live in the next town and my kids get to see them often.

    1. As in nature, our lives move through seasons. Once an energetic, (limber!) young man, virile and completely self sufficient, your dear grandpa is naturally slowing down and isn’t happy about it. Things he did without a thought now takes massive effort, or simply is impossible for him to do at all. These things are scary and depressing for him, and having to ask for help makes it all worse–making it clear to himself that he’s losing ‘the young man i once was’–losing even more control. That’s what you hear in his tone and when he gets snappy. It’s not you Jessica. Even breathing may be a challenge as it was for my dear dad.

      Physically, your grandpa isn’t the man he used to be, but the young man who once was—is still there, to some degree, if only in his memories or in his humor. Try to remember that he will not be with you forever, that you will miss his voice and seeing him is his beautiful old tennies. As he complains and is grumpy about the little things you don’t understand, try to keep in mind that you will later understand,Jessica, just as I will if we live to be that old.

      As incredibly difficult as it can be to care for an elderly parent or grandparent, make, ‘Live Without Regret’ your motto so that, one day, when his old tennies are empty, you can say that you did all you could to honor this man who has blessed your lives in more ways than any of you know now. Make his favorite pudding, give him plenty of breathing space…if he’s rude, gently tell him that what he said hurt your feelings—as with us all, he needs to have reasonable boundaries too—to create balance for the good for all.

      will be thinking of you….

      1. Thank you Janice! You are right. I helped take care of my other gram (my mom’s mom) before she died last summer and it was sad to watch her deteriorate. The end was the worst. Thanks for your encouragement and inspiring words, I appreciate them :).

      2. Janice,
        What a beautiful reply to Jessica. Much wisdom, insight, empathy, kindness and gratitude. It was an inspiration for me to read. Thank you.

    2. Hi Brittany! That is great you had the opportunity to live with your gram when you were younger, even if it wasn’t perfect. I also lived with my other gram (my mom’s mom who passed away last summer) during my first semester of college. It’s so funny to think of how I was “then” and how I am “now”. I’m sure your kids love having their grandparents around πŸ™‚ Thanks for your sweet words. I like the previous comment about live with out regret. Good words to live by πŸ™‚

  4. My grandpa is 87. I found out this morning that I’ll be planning a trip next weekend to say goodbye. He had a fall at Christmas and isn’t bouncing back like everyone hoped. My folks are caring for him, a true labor of love to witness. Your post made me remember all the great things about him and the memories we’ve made. He was a career Marine, independent and proud. I will miss him very much. Thank you for your post, it was perfect to read today.

    1. Oh so sorry. That’s good you are able to go and visit him and that you have wonderful memories. Some of my friends never even knew any of their grandparents so we are both lucky that we have had the opportunity. I cannot even imagine life without them in it. It’s all I know. It’s amazing the older you get, how much slower things heal. Take care and have a safe trip πŸ™‚

  5. My daughter and I were just talking about my dad last nite at dinner. He is 75 and has been stripping everything off an old truck so that he can restore it. I was telling her about going with him to Sears last week to get a steering wheel puller. The guy at the store looked at dad and said “you might still need help getting it off even with this tool”. I just snickered. When we got back to his house, I went in to go to the bathroom and then back out to the garage to help him get the part off. He already had it off! I couldn’t believe it. It would have taken me that long to get the box open!! The man can outwork any of us! I am 55 yrs old and I still think that man is the best man in the world. He says he plans to live to be 110. And I certainly hope he does!!

  6. I didn’t read all the replies, so I may be saying the same thing as the others, but I teared up reading this. I’ve lost my grandparents, but my Dad and Mom are in their early 80s and I can relate to the slow realization that they are getting old. (Heck, I’m 55, so I’m getting there too!)

    I think it’s wonderful, but I imagine challenging too, all living together. You must have a totally different kind of closeness to your grandparents than if you just visited with them here and there.

    Cherish what you have now. I miss my grandmother, (she lived to be 97), and she was just the sweetest person ever (to me anyway!)

    May God Bless You All. Seems as if He already has πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Kathy! Sorry about your gram. Holy smokes, 97! That is great she lived so long. I am 40 and I still think I am a kid! I asked my mom the other day if she ever thought of herself as a kid and she said, “every day!”. She is 63 years old :). Our garage is kind of a converted space upper and lower for my grandparents so it works out good. We added an interior staircase with the chair lift so they don’t have to do stairs. We all have our own little spaces within the house so for the most part, it works out good πŸ™‚ Hope your mom and dad are healthy and active for many more years.

  7. Jessica-First I must say that what I love most about your blog is your willingness to be “real”. To share your humorous family life and your, shall I say, more pensive family life. And I love your re-do’s etc!!!! But please don’t ever leave out that sensitive, empathetic and “gosh, this kinda hurts” side of your life to the world.

    My mother died 3 years ago and this past Christmas was the first time my father stayed with me over Christmas. Mom and I were best friends. She lived with Alzheimer’s for 8 years and for 8 years my father gave up his world so that he could care for mom in their home. Dad said that he was “serving our Lord”. I live 2 hours away, worked part time and had 3 children to care for. So, this quite fit 78 year old man (treadmill 4.2 which is a run for me, 200 push-ups and 200 sit-ups daily) had a heart attack. No family history. He is thin. He is fit. He eats healthy. He was alone. He adored my mother. He was depressed. He learned to cook. He learned to sew on buttons. He learned to iron. He learned to do laundry. He learned to clean. He did it all. My father was once a prominent cancer surgeon in Kansas City. My father became a humble servant of God.

    Usually my parents stayed with their children or anyone for a few days tops because “fish and visitors smell after three days”, a Benjamin Franklin quote he loved. However this year (he is 81) my pops stayed with my husband and I for 5 days! I cooked for him, I sewed buttons on his pants because he said when he does it they keep popping off :), I hemmed pants, I ironed, we went to a movie where the seat reclines and a server takes your food order (ohhhh, he was like a kid in a candy store!!!), we laughed and we cried. How blessed we are to be able to do something so simple as putting on our elders shoes and double knotting them just as we would for our own children so that they wouldn’t trip on a lace that had come un-done! Bless you Jessica!
    And btw, I bought the issue of Women’s Day that featured you and the fam! Everyone looked beautiful! Congrats!

    1. I only know that you love your family so much! I envy you. None in my family have survived to this stage (hopefully I will be the first!). I cherish older people and really respect them for all they stand for. I am so glad you get to share your live with them and they with you – and your kids! Such a lasting impact. Love your blog – and all your honesty.

      G

      1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I agree, it’s an experience that most do not have the opportunity to have so for that I am grateful πŸ™‚

    2. Awww thank you so much for your wonderful and inspiring comment. Sorry to hear about your mom. I’m sure it is difficult for you and your dad. I appreciate so much your inspiring words and encouragement πŸ™‚ It is certainly an experience that gives you many great memories. It’s strange how you once as a kid rely on your elders to care for you and then life comes full circle and it’s your turn to return the care. So strange how life comes full circle. Thank you again for stopping by and of course, checking us out in Woman’s Day. That was a memory we will never forget πŸ™‚ A great day for sure.

    1. Sorry Shannon about your grandparents. I’m happy I have this time as well with mine πŸ™‚

  8. “It’s so weird to watch someone get old.” And, so says your six year old about you; it’s all relative -smile-.
    My MIL lived with us six of the last eight years of her life and died at 95.5 years of age. It was difficult for all of us due to her dementia and she’d been in education for more than four decades so was used to getting her way, every time. She told me, more than once, she wanted me to leave so she and her son could live happily without me. Some days I handled it better than others. -wry smile-

    1. Sorry. Dementia is so difficult to deal with. My gram that passed last summer was 93 and she had dementia. It was so strange and tiring. It’s good she had you guys to live with and depend on πŸ™‚