Monday, August 4, 2008

The Good Granddaughter and Gmail

First of all, if you were expecting the "Happy Birthday Pen and Palette" post I said would be up today, well, I had the date wrong. August 6 will be the one year birthday of my blog, so watch for that post on Wednesday!

Meanwhile, I’ve got two news items before getting to “The Good Granddaughter”:

MY NEW EMAIL ADDRESS is sjcushman at gmail dot com.
(configured this way to keep spam widgets somewhat at bay, a tip from Erin! thanks!)

So… over the weekend I made the change. And then I sent out emails from my old Yahoo account to over 500 contacts from my Yahoo address book, asking everyone to PLEASE REPLY TO MY NEW GMAIL ADDRESS so I could simply “click” and put you into my new gmail address book. First let me say THANK YOU to the dozen or so folks who actually followed the directions. Now, for the hundred or more (so far) who replied TO MY OLD YAHOO ADDRESS INSTEAD…. I still love you. (Replying to my old email address didn’t help me add you to my gmail address book, so I am adding you manually.) sigh. Oh, and some folks have asked why I changed to gmail—it's simply because my Yahoo account was being slammed with spam. Hope this will be better.

Next news is that I’ve changed the setting on my feed burner so that only a paragraph or two of my blog posts will arrive in your email boxes, if you’ve signed up to receive posts by email. That way your email boxes won’t get filled up with photos, etc., AND you’ll have to click on the link to the blog when it arrives in your in box to read it here, rather than in your email box. The benefit for me is that when you click on the link to my blog, you are counted on my hit counter, which gives a more accurate counting of folks reading the blog. If you haven’t already signed up for emails each time I post, just put your email address in the feed burner box and you’re done.

Now, if you’ve been keeping up with “The Good Daughter” and “ The Good Daughter II” and “The Glasses,” well, here’s another installment in the series:

The Good Granddaughter

My daughter Beth and I drove down to Jackson to visit my mom this weekend. Beth hadn’t seen her in a while ‘cause she’s been busy with grad school (architecture at UT Knoxville) so I tried to prepare her for the decline in my mother’s mental condition. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know my mom has Alzheimer’s and lives in an assisted living home in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Her memory loss seems to be hastening a good bit in the past few months, but thankfully her temperament has improved. Most of the time she’s pretty happy, and she tells me over and over how much she likes her assisted living home now. She’s been there two and a half years. I think it took her about a year and a half to really make the shift from grieving the loss of her house and independence to contentment in her new situation. Which is pretty admirable, actually.

Anyway, the last time I was there I noticed that all the photographs I send her were beginning to pile up around her apartment… covering the window ledges and other areas that needed to be dusted but couldn’t be seen. So I bought her a bulletin board and packed it, and a few tools, for our trip down. We picked up some salads from the Beagle Bagel and took them to Mom’s apartment just before lunch so we could eat with her while we worked on the bulletin board, instead of eating in the dining room like I did last time. (You can read about that experience here.
)

While we’re eating lunch, Mom asks Beth, “What are you doing these days, Beth?”

“I’m in graduate school, studying architecture. And working.”

“Oh, that’s exciting. I guess that keeps you busy.”

“Yes ma’am.”

And then she asks me about the boys and I tell her that Jon is home from Iraq safely and then I remind her that Jason got married in May and show her the picture of him and See again and she says they’re a cute couple and then she asks Beth, “So what have you been doing this summer?”

“I’m in school and working.”

“In school? What are you studying?”

“Architecture.”

“Oh, that sounds exciting.”

After four or five more rounds of this conversation, we were finished with lunch and started working on the bulletin board.

Here’s Beth reading the instructions on how to attach the hangers to the back of the bulletin board. (Granny Effie is watching.)

And here’s Beth hammering the hardware onto the back of the board. Granny Effie is sometimes watching, and sometimes asking, “What are you doing?”

“She’s fixing your bulletin board so we can hang it on the wall.”

“What for?”

“So we can put all your pictures up there so you window seal and end table won’t be so messy.”

“They don’t bother me.”

“I know, Mom, but you’ll enjoy them more this way, and when I send you more pictures you’ll have room for them.”

“My bird feeder is empty.”

“Yeah, I forgot to bring more bird food this trip.”

“I love to sit here and look out this window. It’s so pretty. But the bird feeder is empty.”

“We’ll get some more soon, Mom. Would you like to go out with me and Beth and get some today, when we’re finished with the bulletin board?”

“What are you going to do with the bulletin board?’



“We’re going to arrange your pictures on it, like this—“

"Oh, that's nice. But I really need a manicure."

"Yeah... a few weeks ago when I took you to the nail place you changed your mind and asked me to bring you home, so you didn't get one that day."

"Can you do my nails for me?"

"No, I don't have all the right stuff, Mom, but they can do your nails in the beauty parlor upstairs here. Do you want me to make you an appointment?"

"No, I'm not in the mood."

Beth has finished with the hardware and is ready to arrange the pictures, so I gather up a few stacks and start selecting a few for her to group together.

“Here—put some captions with each group to remind Mom who folks are and what was going on in each picture.”

Granny Effie gets up to watch Beth arranging the pictures and looks out the window, where a big yellow machine is parked next to the building, with a crane reaching up to the roof.

“They’re working on our building,” she says.

I look and see roofing materials.

“Oh, that must be roof repairs from the tornadoes that came through here a couple of months ago. I’m glad they’re fixing the roof. Although I feel sorry for the men working on the roof today—it’s over 100 degrees!”

About then Beth has finished arranging the photographs and we hang the bulletin board on the wall.

“Oh, I love it. Can I go see if Elizabeth wants to come see it?”

“Sure, Mom.” Elizabeth is Mom’s best friend, who lives across the hall and has two cats and also feeds wild cats that live behind their assisted living home. She’s also the friend I wrote about in “The Good Daughter II” ....

Elizabeth comes over and loves the bulletin board. Then she sits down to visit with us, and begins telling us about her cats.

“My big tom cat is named Rosie. I named him after Rosevelt Greer, the football player, because he’s huge.”

“That name sounds familiar,” I look at Beth, who always knows sports trivia. “Who did he play for?”

“Some team in California,” Elizabeth begins, “He was the only good one in the whole bunch of them. And he was huge.”

Beth gets out her new phone and Googles Roosevelt Greer and sure ‘nuff he played for the Los Angeles Rams in 1972 and his nickname was “Rosie.”

“Yes, he was a good man. He quit playing football and became a preacher.”

Beth verified this info from her phone and added, “and he did needlepoint and he knitted.”

About then one of the aids came in the door looking for Elizabeth. “Mrs. McKay, I’ve got your antibiotic… I thought you’d be over here with Miss Effie when I couldn’t find you in your room.”

“Oh, where is it?”

The aid hands the pill and a cup of water to Elizabeth, who takes the pill and then looks out the window and says, “There’s that big girl who works here, Emily? Just sitting out on the patio. What’s she doing out there? She’s so big and she’s just sitting out there.”

I look out the window. “That’s one of the construction workers taking a break from working up on the roof, Elizabeth.”

“No, that’s that fat girl that works here. She is so big.”

About then the aid giving Elizabeth her pill says, “Now, I bet you talk about me like that when I’m not here.” This aid has lots of braids, dyed red, and pulled up on top of her head so that they stick out in all directions. “I’ll bet you say, ‘there goes that big girl whose hair looks like it’s on fire’ or something like that.” And the aid starts laughing. Mom and Beth and I are cracking up by now.

Elizabeth says, “I’m sure that’s that big girl out there on the patio.”

I look again. “That’s a Hispanic man sitting there, Elizabeth.”

“Well, I can’t see very good any more.”

The aid leaves and I look at my watch and realize we won’t have time to take Mom out to buy birdseed unless we leave soon, and just as I’m about to suggest we leave, Elizabeth starts back up.

“I’ve got a friend who is Chinese. Her parents are pure Chinese. They came from China. But they know a lot about adoption.”

I'm guessing this conversation is sparked by Beth's presence, but I'm not sure, and Elizabeth never addresses Beth directly about being Asian or adopted. She just keeps talking.

“Anyway, I went to a funeral for a family member of hers and it was a genuine Chinese funeral. At the end, they threw a funeral wreath up on the roof of the house. It was all completely Chinese.”

“That’s an interesting custom, Elizabeth,” I try to join the thread. “Are they Buddhist?”

“No, they’re Chinese. They’re from China.”

Mom seems to want to join the conversation but it’s hard to find a place to jump in so she says, “I can’t tell the difference if someone is from China or Japan. They look the same to me.”

Beth and I share understanding looks throughout the visit, and I’m so thankful she’s there. She's patient and sweet with Granny Effie and somehow it just helps me for her to be part of the circle.


This little cocktail napkin reminds me of our visit with Mom.

About then I say it's time for us to be on the road and so Mom and Elizabeth start walking with me and Beth out of Mom's apartment and towards the front of the building. On the way we see one of Mom's dining room table mates, Jamie, playing Scrabble with another resident. Jamie hugs me and I introduce her to Beth and she hugs Beth and tells her, "We're taking good care of your grandmother." Later I remind Beth that Jamie is the one that Elizabeth thinks has Alzheimers, but Jamie is the one who plays Scrabble.

On the drive back to Memphis, I tell her I’m so glad she came, and thank her for helping me with the bulletin board. Well, actually, she did most of it herself and I just watched. She certainly made my trip to Jackson so much lighter this month. She’s a Good Granddaughter.

1 comment:

mary said...

I enjoyed this. Your daughter is beautiful. Is she pursuing her archetecture?