We finally get a break from shoveling snow today! 🙂 It’s February 9th and so far, I have shoveled more days than I haven’t. 😉 Oh, Calgon, take me away! *laughs ruefully* I live in a house that’s on the corner and anyone else who has knows it’s a pain because you have more shoveling to do than the rest of the block, except the house across the street. 😉 The lady that lives there is old enough to be my grandma’s mom, she’s been there a long time. Luckily, she has grandchildren and great-grandchildren who help her. A lot of the families who live on the court have lived here for longer than I have been alive, though some now have passed on or moved into retirement homes. The newer families that live here seem to be pretty nice. I am grateful to have a peaceful neighborhood to live in.
I have lived here on and off since I was a baby. This house has been in my family since my grandpa was a young boy. He grew up here with his three brothers and two sisters. All that is left of them now are my two great-aunts. My great-uncle just passed away at the end of January this year. Hmm. There are so many memories in this house. When my grandpa and his siblings were grown, their parents rented the place out for a little while. Later, my grandpa and grandma bought it and raised my mom and two uncles here. My mom married at 18 and took off. The marriage didn’t last long and in the end, she dated my dad, it too didn’t work out and she was back here at the age of 20, nearly 21 with a baby in tow.
We lived here until I was four and a half and then my mom got an apartment for us in West Allis. We moved around a bit, ended up in Madison after she graduated college and found commuting a pain. I will fill you in on my years in between some other time, but for now, back to my experiences here. At the age of 17, nearly 18, my mom had me move in with my grandma. There’s a long story to tell at a later date. After that, I moved in and out. Every time an experience went bad or I was just unhappy, I moved back here. My grandma was my saving grace more than once. This was somewhere I could always call home.
When I was 23, only for a few months, I’d found out I was pregnant. I packed my stuff up and moved from Appleton back here to Milwaukee, once again. It was said I should be with family at a time like this. I lived here until my son was four and a half. Oh Deja Vu, yeah, it visited me a lot. So much of my mom’s history became my own.
I vowed then I would never return to this house, that I would be on my own for good and never need to come back here. It was too much tending to the house, cleaning up after two grown adults who should be able to take care of themselves. The other adult in question was my uncle, who had moved in a week after I did due to a divorce. 😦 That was a rough time for him and his four boys. Anyway, so I was on my own and it was nice living in a two story townhouse, providing for my son and myself. Circumstances brought me to Appleton once more, trying to live in the same town as my son’s dad so we could have equal time with our child. It didn’t work out and I ended up back here with limited time with my son once more.
Well, let me bring you to 2012, July. Those who have followed my blog for awhile know the story, some of you don’t. Let me share this with all of you. I’d been worried about my grandma for some time and finally I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was on the phone with my mom, saying we needed to get her help. Eventually, calls were placed to the Dept. of Aging and they met with my mom and grandma first. She was admitted to the hospital because of extremely high blood pressure. As it turned out, she’d not been taking her medicine for at least a year or so and she needed to get things under control. She fought it, but was willing to be admitted if she could ride with my mom. She was there for about five days and in that time, my uncle had been gone working at Scout camp. The house was in bad shape and we couldn’t let her return home, so I got the city involved and they deemed the house inhabitable. When released from the hospital, she went to an assisted living place on a temporary basis. Later, my uncle (the youngest of the three) in Minnesota had me bring her there so they could look after her while we worked on the house, saving her a lot of money and giving them some time together.
Working on the house was a long project, never ending it seemed. Nerves were frayed, lots of arguing was involved. In the end, it was decided that my uncle who lives here in Wisconsin and had been living with my grandma since his separation would be moving out and staying with a friend; I then would be moving in and looking after my grandma.
October of 2012 made its way here and on the 23rd, three months to the day since the mess had begun, I was fully moved in and unpacked and Grandma was home. It’s been one heck of a journey. A month after this chapter began for us, she had a stroke and we then found out she’d had prior ones and no one knew, including her. It’s been rough to say the least. Little did I know what I’d signed up for. It’s become more than just making her take her medicine every day, doing her laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. She falls and I have to watch out for her now and some times it is so difficult, sometimes I just want to throw in the towel, throw my hands in the air, wave the white flag, and say I AM DONE! Getting her to and from appointments is a chore now, helping her to the car and preventing her from falling can be a challenge. When her speech slips and trying to make sense of what she’s saying can be rough, but usually after a few moments, she regains control and I can understand her once more. She is fighting this so hard, so stubborn and so determined to not let this beat her. She has been a role model for me since childhood and even though she’s not that strong and vital woman who can do anything now, she’s still so set that she’s going to keep going for as long as she can. I look up to her even now. And though I am the one caring for her now, she still tries to look out for me now and then. She has been the one to look after me for so much of my adult life and when she feels particularly strong and sees I am struggling, she tries to be there for me.
Sometimes my temper is short and I feel bad. It’s not always easy for me, for either of us. I know she is struggling with aging, with admitting she’s not who she once was, with needing help. My heart breaks for her. I am glad that I haven’t given up. This has helped me to grow and to mature in ways I didn’t know I needed. Being her beacon after all the years she’s been mine is rewarding. Being able to help the woman who has given me so much is a blessing, even in its darkest moments.
So even when I am bickering under my breath while shoveling, raking, cleaning up spills, arguing with her to change clothes, and everything in between, I am grateful to be here, to be helping her, keeping her out of a nursing home for as long as I can. I want her to be here, to be home for as long as I am physically able to be here for her. Sometimes I need to vent just to release some steam, sometimes I need a few me moments by taking a long bath or escaping to my room to read or bowl league so that I can be at 100% for her. I am going to keep fighting, fighting for her and fighting for us. She is my grandma, been another mom to me, and been a friend. I thank God for the trials, for the difficult times, just as I thank Him for the joyous times. They all shape me into who I am and who I will be. God brought me here for a reason. Through it all, I am blessed.
Oh and thank you for all of the support given to me through all of this. I have had some amazing people in my life, listening to me when I have a rough day, hugging me, letting me cry, making me laugh, praying for us, and just being phenomenal. I love you all.