I rented a car and took my kids to Whittier for my grandmother’s 94th birthday. We don’t buy her anything anymore as she’s always giving everything away. She says things like. “Here do you like this? You should take it. I’ll be dead soon.”
She’s been saying that for at least 15 years and lives in a small room in my aunt’s house. She once gave me a two shoe boxes of photos–or rather I saved two shoe boxes of photos because she was trying to throw them away. I saved them , took the home and she then talked about the fact that someone keeps stealing her things.
It’s sometimes hard to know the correct answer with her. I still remember a time when she was in charge of everything and was clearly the matriarch at the top of her game. And I miss the her that was her terribly though I love the her that is her now.
I inhabit the weird space of a child she actually loves. Perhaps it’s that I was first born but she tends to ignore those that do things for her in favor of those who take too much. She favors the moochers and the ne’erdowells and looks down at those that keep their lives together. It’s the way it’s always been. Get a PhD and she says to you “Well, I love all my children” ; can’t make your car payment and she’ll make it for you and talk to those around you about the unfair troubles you are having because of some fault of your parents somewhere.
We try and overlook this.
I leave my grandmother wishing, I think, like most Americans, that we’d have had a better plan for our elderly instead of this denial of aging–which particularly flourishes in Southern California– and this last minute direness. In truth we don’t really have plans. Our old people wind up tethered to insurance plans that keep them in a tight circumfrence of living where ever they lived the bulk of their time when well. They are afraid to leave for fear they might need a doctor. Their doctor. And they can’t learn new tricks.
Life, love, and the pursuit of happiness ends at 75 when you push the upper edges of life expectancy. And then what?