The Queen of the Silver Dollar, Chapter 9: Closing Time

Closing Time

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.

Grandma, the Queen of the Silver Dollar, 1916 – 2012.

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.

38 replies »

  1. Grandma sounds like she lived a life that she enjoyed, so there is a lot to be said for that.And if Grandma warrants a nine-part story, you better get started on the 100-part story of your wife’s life. and thank for the new word – tabescent. It’s my second new word in the last 15 minutes – the other was conurbation…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I was saying good bye to my grandmother the same year. It is a transition to life when grandmother is no longer there. In my case, the glue that sort of kept our family together was my grandmother and when she was gone, we never really got together as a large family again. I suppose that is how it happens.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed these tales about your Grandmother. You did a great job! She would be proud of the tribute you gave her….or she would be giving you the silent treatment. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I have had a theory that the meanest and orneriest people live the longest. They’re just too mean and ornery to go when they can no longer care for themselves so their years on earth may be extended just so they can continue to make life miserable for us their caretakers. I had crafted this theory sort of on the long life and extended death of my mother’s mother and some other people of similar age and ilk I had heard tales of at the time.

    I knew this didn’t apply to my sweet (at least as I knew him) old Grandpa who’d gone several years before his wife. It even more certainly doesn’t apply to my dad, who I miss more today (even if it wasn’t Father’s Day I still miss him for other reasons) since his painful passing from complications of diabetes 16 years ago at the relatively young age of 75.

    Now I must decide how to apply this theory to my mother’s current state of physical and mental health, both of which are poor now and probably will not improve. She has Alzheimer’s, aortic stenosis, a broken neck and a nicked and twisted artery. The last 3 were the result of a fall a few weeks ago but even before that I’d already told my kids if I ever acted like their grandma had been for the year and a half I had been her caregiver, they should just go ahead and kill me.

    In Mom’s defense, her Alzheimer’s and rapidly worsening vision were probably conditions inherited from her mother. That’s why I fear what the future holds for my health and faculties. Even given all this, I feel extremely guilty at the moment for not going to visit her daily but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I can’t lie to her and I can’t really help her so I’m leaving that to the professionals at the board and care facility to which she will probably be moved next week.

    Add to that the impending sense of personal freedom I hope to experience when she’s in a place where she will be much better cared for by strangers than I could ever do. Add to that the notion that i wish she would get it over already before all her funds (which will go to me and eventually to my kids which was her intent) are exhausted before that. Add to that the fact that I’m still in the process of divorcing (he filed while I was taking care of Mom) and I wonder if I will ever be happy again. Almost makes me wish I was mean and ornery like my grandma and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, sounds like you are going through some very difficult times. If you don’t think you can do a good job taking care of your mother, then I think it would be best for both of you, that she go to a care home. They know how to take care of Alzheimer’s patients much more than the average person. The cost though, can be tremendous, so I see why you’re concerned about that.

      Sounds like you’re feeling a little hopeless that you can ever be happy again. What a heartbreak it must be, going through a divorce. I wish you well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks. With the help and support and encouragement of good friends, some like you that I have yet to meet IRL, I think I am on my way back up from the bottom of my emotional abyss.

    Liked by 1 person

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