After more than three years of living with us and barhopping with my wife, Grandma’s health went downhill again. She reached the point where she couldn’t sit at a barstool anymore, or even handle a beer, so she asked to go to the hospital. My wife drove her to the ER.
But there the doctor scolded her. “You’re old!” he declared. “We can’t help you here, and you’re taking up space we need for those we CAN help.” He gave her a choice between being admitted to a rest home, or receiving hospice care at our home.
My grandma chose hospice. But her hearing had gone so bad from her super-powerful, and super-damaging hearing aids, that we’ve never been sure if she understood the choice she was being asked to make.
Soon hospice took away all of her life-sustaining medication, such as her heart pills, and replaced them with painkillers. And my grandma’s health worsened. She had always been thin, but over the next few months she grew even thinner.
She reached the point where she could no longer walk to the livingroom and watch the Syfy channel. Later, she could no longer make it to the bathroom, and had to resort to a potty chair in the bedroom. Then she grew so tabescent, she could hardly get out of bed.
One evening she fell, and it was a struggle to get her back on her feet and into bed. At this point she became too much for my wife and I to handle, and we had her admitted to a local rest home.
A few days after she was admitted, I finished my mail delivery rounds and drove over to pay her a visit. There she lay, flat on her back, with a cold dinner sitting on a tray in front of her. The staff would not help her eat, and her arms were too weak to lift the silverware.
I tried to speak to her, but she was too weak to answer, and probably couldn’t hear me anyway. I wasn’t even sure if she recognized me. But as I turned to leave, she lightly grabbed my hand. Then she pointed to the food, and then her mouth. It seemed as if she was asking me to feed her.
So I dipped a spoon into the bowl of mush, or whatever it was, and guided it into her mouth. It felt strange feeding someone. It’s the first time I’d ever done such a thing in my life. It kind of grossed me out, but Grandma seemed hungry, so I kept at it.
How roles had changed! She had helped take care of me during my first year of life, and I’m sure she’d put a spoon into my mouth many times. I don’t know if it grossed her out, but she did it. And now here I was, returning the favor.
But after three meager spoonfuls, Grandma waved her hand as if to say, “Enough.” That was all she could handle. So I set the spoon down and said goodbye to her. She feebly managed a slight wave back.
It might have been the last meal she ever ate. A few days later the lights were turned out and the party was over. It was closing time. The Queen of the Silver Dollar abdicated her throne and returned Home, just two months shy of her 97th birthday.
This has been the final installation of my nine-part series, The Queen of the Silver Dollar. I hope you enjoyed the read! Click here to read the last installation. Click here to start at the beginning.