Sunday, April 24, 2011

Some Amazing Old Polaroids and Visiting Grandpa's Grave for Easter

My sister and brother-in-law had Grandma and I over for Easter dinner today. They made a lovely meal and Grandma enjoyed seeing them. When we were driving away she told me that they were a nice family and she would like to have them over to get better acquainted and make them a potica (a Slovenian dessert she used to make). And while we were there she told my sister she was going to have to find a ride home because "one of the Perbilsky boys" had given her a ride over there (I drove her, of course). So, her mind was not really getting into gear today.

On our way back home we drove past a random row of houses and she said, "My husband died in one of those houses". Not at all true, but I just nodded and kept on driving. Ten minutes later we were driving past the cemetery where my Grandpa is buried and I decided on the spur of the moment that I should take her to visit his grave because she hadn't been able to go there for a long time while she was in the hospital and then the nursing home, and she is Catholic, so Easter is an important holiday to her. As we drove through the entrance she said, "This is where my husband is buried." I couldn't believe she could recognize it! I mean, she doesn't even recognize the house we live in together as the one she lived in for 9 years before going to the nursing home. Even though she had said the random house was where he had died, I do believe she really knew he was buried at the cemetery.

And somehow I knew where his grave was even though I had only been there for the funeral 10 years earlier. I was so hesitant to take here there, but it didn't feel right to ignore it for my own convenience either. I don't know if bringing her there was the right thing to do or not. But I asked her if she would like to go to his grave and she said yes. So, I got her out of the car and wheeled her over. We stayed for about ten minutes and she cried and talked to him the whole time. I cried. It was so heartbreaking to hear how much she misses him. She's cried about him ever since he died, but being at his grave brought it out from a little deeper than I'd seen in a while. On the tombstone, right above their last name "Prasnicki" it says "Together Forever", and I just hope they can be together again.

We left and drove over to my parents to get their newspapers and check on the house and then we drove another 15 minutes into Simpsonville for ice cream. She did really well the whole way. But when I got back in the car after going inside to get ice cream she asked me if Grandpa recognized me. I said, "no, I don't think so," just to play along since that is the current advice to people dealing with dementia. We finished our ice creams, but she kept saying "I wonder where he is." And when I couldn't find the car key for a minute she said, "oh, John probably has it". Then it went downhill. She was convinced that he was there in the bathroom and that we had left him. She cried and yelled at me the whole way home about how she couldn't believe I would just leave him there. I tried to reason with her and tell her he was dead and that we had just visited his grave, but she wasn't hearing me. It wasn't getting through.

I got her home, took her to the bathroom and put her to bed right away. The tears were dry when she hit the pillow, so hopefully she'll be fine in the morning. Well, after I put her to bed I decided to look through some of her old photo albums to see if I could find any cool old photos to put on the walls. I found these gems!

Wow. She and my Grandpa John used to love to go on road trips and they loved to fish. I never knew they took a trip to the Bahamas in the early 70s before I was born, but I found a couple of Polaroids from there. The one of them by the airplane is so classic! There is also a shot of Grandpa with a fish and their son Steve (I think) in the background. He looks like he could be one of my modern day friends. Steve is my uncle who died of leukemia in the 70s. And I absolutely love the blurry shot of Grandma with the fish she caught.

Seeing theses photos today made me understand her pain so much more. She lost the best friend that she had through her whole adult life. They had eight children together, traveled, worked hard and even got themselves to the Bahamas when that was a luxury for the rich (which they most definitely were not). In this moment I think I am the most envious I have ever been of long lasting love between a man and a woman. These photos and the pain I saw on my Grandma's face today made me understand something I didn't think I could comprehend since I've never felt it for myself. I don't have any concrete beliefs about what happens after we die, but right now I hope more than anything that my Grandpa is there waiting for her on the other side.


  1. Oh Brenda, you have me crying, too. I said it before -- you are such an angel. And this part: "I was so hesitant to take here there, but it didn't feel right to ignore it for my own convenience either." I know. God, I know.

    Take care, honey. Happy Easter!

  2. love love love ... for you and for your gram

  3. Thank you Karen and Emily! Knowing that you're reading really, really means a lot and makes me want to keep it up. xoxo

  4. Such a moving post. What a day to experience. Have to say, being Slovenian, I bet her potica was tasty. I found a good site to order them from my sister, not as tasty as a family members, but worth checking out... Keep enjoying every moment. :)

  5. Thanks K-La! I am going to try and make a potica soon. If I fail miserably I will order one. Thanks for the tip and for following the blog!

  6. It's a good thing you are doing. Would that we all have someone look after us like this. Keep following your heart!

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  8. Brenda, I love that your doing this. My father had a stroke last year and I've been helping to take care of him more. I have been taking photos of him along his recovery as well when he lets me. There are so many stories and fun times to be had along the way. And then there are the things you never thought you would be doing to help another person. Keep up the good work, keep laughing and good luck on that garden....

  9. Thank you all for the comments and support. Straka, I'm glad you too are finding positive experiences with your Dad, and getting to take some pictures. I'm also glad to hear he is recovering. So many of my friends have contacted me due to my blog and what I am sharing about my grandmother with experiences they are going through with their own parents. I have to say, that is worlds more challenging than me helping my grandmother. If I was doing this for my own mother I can not even imagine how I would cope.