My Grandma was always such a character, even from my earliest memories. She never really did things that other Grandmothers did. Instead of baking cookies, she made fried bologna sandwiches. She was married 3 times, the second time being to my Grandfather. Then 40 years later, she had a brief marriage to his identical twin brother, my Great Uncle!! Can you say ewww, creepy????
She was obsessed with visiting cemeteries where her loved ones were buried. At age 5, Grandma and I went on an adventure alone to the cemetery. Before we went, she stopped at Roy Rogers and got me a hamburger and fries so I was a happy camper. By the time we got to the cemetery, it was late afternoon. I had no idea what time cemeteries closed at that age and Grandma certainly wasn’t deterred by the late hour.
She took me all over to 3 different gravestones and told me stories about my ancestors. It was actually pretty interesting and before we knew it, it was dark out. Well I know now that most cemeteries close pretty early, and it was definitely past closing time. So we were locked in and our car was outside the gates.
Grandma looked around and then found an exit with a cement wall rather than those black ominous looking spikes that were everywhere else. I remember getting scared and that I started to cry. She said don’t cry Emma you can jump it. C’mon, I will help you! And that’s exactly what she did lol. She helped me get over the fence and then she did the same. I was so proud of my accomplishment and excited by our adventure that I failed to notice my Mom’s abject horror at the thought of her little girl scaling over a cemetery wall. After a few other misadventures with Grandma, I noticed we pretty much stopped going places with her alone for a number of years lol.
She moved down to Florida after my Holy Communion in the 80’s and she never set foot back in New York again until she got Alzheimer’s at age 83 and we brought her up to live with us for the last 2 years of her life. Grandma might have had a stroke and couldn’t remember where she was but she NEVER lost her spirit. One night following dinner, shortly after she arrived, she said, “This is great! I have everything I need. Except I need a man.” My Mom had gone up to change her clothes, so it was just my Dad and I at the table with her. My Dad spit out his coffee he was laughing so hard and I just said, “Grandma, you were married 3 times! I think you’ve had enough men lol”. She said, “I was? Wow, that’s a lot huh?”
Then there was the Sunday morning I woke up to my Mom’s shrieks and ran downstairs like a bat out of hell without even thinking. Sitting in the middle of the foyer on the floor was my Grandma, completely covered head to toe in her own poop. It was already so caked on she looked like a brown clay person. Little known fact. Poop doesn’t really smell when it’s dried like clay lol. To make matters worse, she had left a trail from one end of the very large downstairs of the house to the other! Did I mention we had white carpet in the formal dining room n living room? My Mom called my Dad who was working and he calmed her down a little. I got my Mom a cup of coffee and asked her did she want to take the house or Grandma? One of us would have to clean the house and the other would have to clean Grandma. Since I wasn’t looking forward to either task, I thoughtfully let her choose. She said she would take the house, so upstairs I took Grandma to put her in the tub. It took over an hour and a half to get her totally clean and the whole time she just kept saying over and over, “I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it!” which I found pretty hysterical because come on! LOL So as I was toweling her off and putting a new set of clothes on her, she said “You’re a good girl, I want you to have the house.” I said this house (knowing my parents in fact owned it and always had)? She said yes. I said thanks and we all got a chuckle out of it when I told the rest of the family. Well about a week later I was stopping Grandma from throwing chicken bones out on the front lawn when she said, I don’t like you, get away from me! My Mom, the original smart ass (see I come by it honestly), turned to me and said, “Oh well, guess you’re not getting the house!” LOL!!!!
It was difficult taking care of her at the end, even with all of us pitching in. But I’m so glad that we did. In her lucid moments, I really got to know her more than I ever had before. And I treasure those memories, good and bad. When my Mom got sick, we had already worked as a team, my Dad, Mom and I, all those years ago. It made it much easier to work together again to help get her well and then at the end to keep her comfortable. I know many things happen for a reason and I’m glad my Mom couldn’t just put her Mom in a home. She showed me that even things that seem way too difficult can be good for us and that we should always take care of the people we love.