I went for dinner with my Grandma tonight; that process has changed a great deal in the months since my grandma moved out of her house and into an assisted living facility. She was hospitalized in November, and stayed in hospital for more than eight weeks following a rough bout with pneumonia. After list of tests as long as Sherman’s tail, the medical people discovered Grandma’s pneumonia was caused by aspirating food and drink particles: she will be eating a special diet for the rest of her life to prevent the lung problems from recurring.
The doctors recommended Grandma reside in assisted living so someone else would prepare her meals and so trained medical folk could help her manage her pills. She’s been getting confused more often in the last few years, and we worried about her living alone in her house, a good thirty minute drive from the nearest relative (me). We were also concerned about her ability to navigate the stairs and sidewalks of her house, especially in the winter.
I was sick about moving Grandma into a “home.” I imagined a place that smelled like cabbage and old people and loneliness, a place where my tiny grandmother would be shoehorned into a room barely large enough for her to turn around in. It was probably because I was fearing the worst after her long haul in the oldest wing of the hospital, where there were no connections for a television and where the oldest room wasn’t even wired so that we could get her a telephone. I had visions of poor Grandma sitting and staring at the wall like she was forced to do in the hospital.
You would not believe the place we found for Grandma. It was one part luck, one part my pushy uncle (well done, Dave), and one part facility that could meet Grandma’s specialized dietary needs. Every resident has a separate apartment with a full kitchen, including a teensy half-size dishwasher. The whole building is air-conditioned, and every suite controls its own heating and cooling. Inside her ritzy senior-friendly bathroom, Grandma as a walk in shower I am sure is larger than my entire upstairs bathroom. She has giant windows on two exposures, and, since she’s on the fourth and top floor, twelve-foot vaulted ceilings throughout her suite. It’s a remarkably beautiful place, except for the wall colour–dear God, please deliver us from beige, amen– and as we move her own belongings in it looks more and more like her home.
By far and away, the best part of the whole building is the dining room. Grandma’s corner apartment is twelve steps one way from the beautiful blue common sitting room, which is an ocean colour and features a treadmill and a fire place, and about twenty steps the other direction from the dining room, which looks more like a schmancy restaurant and is done up in terracotta and dark blues. The ladies who serve the food know every resident by name, and the whole affair is very elegant. Thankfully, since Grandma is itty bitty and could do with a little plumping, the food is beyond fabulous. We are also welcome to join her for meals anytime, as long as we call ahead and pay the very reasonable charge for the additional plate.
I drove over to visit Grandma tonight, and to join her and the other grannies and grampies for supper. I think I should go on Sundays more often: it was a full-on roast beef supper tonight, complete with mashed potatoes and glazed carrots and tasty gravy. A friendly lady in the hair net brought me a wee piece of coconut cream pie for dessert.
Going for dinner at the old folks’ home is like being a celebrity for the evening. Everyone wanted to know who I was and what I do for a living. (Wild animal trainer, thank you.) Not very often in my life am I the big news like I was tonight. The ladies Grandma sits with are a spunky little group; Peggy, the extra fiery one, announced that someone had forgotten the coconut in her pie. Dining with people fifty years older than me is a nice change of pace from my frantic everyday life. It’s also nice to see my grandma chatting and making friends in her new place. To top it all off, the dining room ladies were in a generous mood tonight and didn’t even charge me for my meal.
What a lovely little evening for the Family Day Long Weekend. It’s such a relief to see Grandma doing well and settling in. Clearly, things have returned pretty much to normal: she made me call her when I arrived back at the dollhouse so I would know I was home safely.
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