Friday, April 19: “I need to hem these,” says Grandma holding a pretty pair of pants. She goes to the laundry room and comes out with its matching two-piece top, excited at having found this “new” outfit in her closet.
I praise the raspberry-colored church attire knowing she can’t hem anymore… I also don’t want to be an asshole by reminding her that she can’t.
Friday, April 26: “I need to hem these pants,” says Grandma of the pair still draped on her kitchen chair. She disappears to the laundry room and reappears with the matching tops…
If I offer to help with too much, she gets defensive, her independence getting the best of her. I compliment the outfit instead, and we go about our day.
Friday, May 3: “I need to hem these pants,” says Grandma. I wait til later in the day to address it…
At the library something comes up about pants. “Grandma, I just hemmed a pair of jeans this week,” I say. “How about I take your pants home and hem them since I have everything out?” I hold my breath for her response.
“Okay,” she says. No rebuttal. No indignation. Just agreement. Thank. God.
With Alzheimer’s, every single conversation requires navigation. Helping to come up with names and words is the easy part. The tough part is offering help without her getting mad, either at me or at herself. The tough part is handling defiance as gently as possible. The tough part is not taking any of it personally.
After two weeks off from my Farm Friday visits with Grandma, I’ll be back this week.
I can tell you every comment she’ll make as we drive by landmarks to town. I can tell you what she’ll say about the weather and every story from her childhood that she’ll recount once more. I can tell you of her recollections about Grandpa — their dating days still seem to be clear in her mind.
Our conversations will repeat as usual, but this week? She won’t have to mention hemming those pants.
Life isn’t always easy.
Show up anyway.