Thursday, November 15, 2007

Looking for the good in goodbye

I got a call tonight from my mom. She and my dad are back home, with my uncle in tow. They got back from Nebraska today, where they took my grandmother. They got her checked out by a doctor who confirmed that my grandma is suffering from dementia. The doctor said it's not Alzheimer's disease. They also got her admitted to a nursing facility.

But before she moved into her new home, an amazing thing happened while they were all staying at my aunt's house. Mom said my grandmother, who has been virtually confined to a wheelchair for weeks now, was up and walking around with the aid of her walker. She even negotiated two small stairs with the help of my uncles and her walkers.

But that seeming rejuvenation aside, taking my grandmother back to the community that has been her home for so much of her live was obviously a difficult chore for all of them. It was a somber task, including a visit to a funeral home to make decisions and final arrangements for the inevitable end to this sad saga. I got some of the details by phone today. They left sometime yesterday, and between the three of them they drove straight through and arrived home today.

Mom was tired from the dramatic ordeal and the long drive. But she also returned confident that she and her siblings did the right thing for their mother, as difficult as it was. She is pleased that she is getting appropriate medical care.

If relief is audible, it was that I heard in her voice.

I am sad that I probably won't be seeing my grandmother again in this life, and our goodbye was not the sort I would have scripted for her, me or my family. But I am relieved that she finally got a doctor to pay attention to more than the your physical pains, pulse, blood pressure and bones. There is a stoic reassurance in the diagnosis and an offer of care and therapy. The medical professional think they can actually help her get better physically and emotionally before the unstoppable eventual decline.

No, this was not a good situation. This was not good for any of the people involved. But it seems better. Sometimes better just has to be enough.

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