MEETING FOR THE
I had a dream last night. My 98 year
old grandmother, who is in a rest home, had decided to enter law school.
Analyze that one.
OK. My guess is that either 1) I long for the days when my 98
year old grandmother was still coherent, or 2) you donít have to be
coherent to be a lawyer.
Giving lawyers the benefit of the doubt, Iím going with
The other possibility is that Iím feeling guilty about not
going to visit her more often and it comforts me to realize sheís been
busy studying for the law school entrance exam and hasnít noticed Iíve
been neglecting her.
That analysis probably makes the most sense. And while
it helps to explain my dream, it doesnít explain why Iím so rotten for
failing to visit often enough.
The fact is I was much better at visiting when my
grandmother could remember I had come. Now that sheís entered her own
little world, itís a 50-50 chance sheíll even recognize me.
The last time I visited, I brought my children, who
range in age from 9-18. She was in her room, in her wheelchair, staring
straight ahead, looking at nothing in particular. We all bounded into the
room, full of as much enthusiasm as we could muster.
She turned slowly, and faint hints of recognition
flickered across her face. She knew us from somewhere, she just couldnít
place it exactly.
I introduced all of us to her, one by one. She had
played with us, cooked for us and cared for us, all of our lives. Yet she
was meeting us for the first time.
Introductions complete, I asked how she was doing. And
I got the same answer Iíd been hearing for the last seven years.
"Iím tired," she replied. "Iím so
"Youíve got a new roommate," I said,
motioning to a woman fast asleep in the bed next to my grandmotherís.
"Is she nice?"
My grandmother looked over and saw the woman sleeping.
"I donít know," she answered. "Sheís never
Clearly, pajama parties and pillow fights were not on
the agenda. My grandmother seemed resigned to having a roommate that slept
approximately 23 Ĺ hours a day. Quiet time was not an issue here.
I asked a few more questions, got a few more answers,
and then introduced everyone again. After about 15 minutes, all of us felt
we had stayed 14 minutes too long.
"Youíre not leaving already," said my grandmother
as we each gave her a hug and a kiss. "You just got here."
Dammit. The guilt trip. One minute she has no clue who
we are, the next minute sheíll be crushed if we leave too soon.
So we sat for awhile longer as the conversation
dragged. When I ran out of things to talk about I simply introduced
everyone again, and she met them for the first time. It became, as always,
kind of comical.
After another 15 minutes, I announced weíve really got to
"Youíre not leaving already," she said. "You
just got here."
As we climbed into the car, we were half laughing, half
crying. That was not the grandmother/great grandmother we knew. That was
someone else. Her mind was fading, her body only a remnant of what it once
And it would have been heartbreakingly sad to witness,
but as I kept reminding the children, their great-grandmother is 98 YEARS
OLD. It is absolutely amazing that she is still alive.
She lives on, day after day, slowly wasting away
towards her inevitable death. I suppose thatís why I have such a
reluctance to visit her. I think I want to believe she is already gone,
and Iím hesitant to picture her in the rest home, alone and dying. So I
picture nothing, and knowing she has no recollection of how often I visit,
I visit far less often than I should.
Then I have the dream. I just hope I donít interrupt
her studying for law school when I go see her this week.