Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hello Darlin, nice to see you. It's been a long time.

Lyric titles. I can't help myself.


Wow. I can't believe it's been almost four months since I touched base. Things have been very busy in KAR land. A very quick update on the current situation - the funding for my position with the lib-uh-rary is being slashed at the end of June. I will be busted down to 17.5 hours a week at $7.75 an hour. Not exactly a living wage or anything and jobs aren't very forthcoming in this area.

In an effort to try to cover the future I tiny bit, I took on two extra jobs. I am currently an enumerator with the U.S. census bureau and that is rather interesting. Someone remind me to talk about the pervert and that dude with the fucking frozen chicken sometime in the future. (Also, please excuse any typos, grammatical errors, general off-kilter rambling, and whatnot. I have a hard time editing myself on a slow day and I'm trying to post in between busy moments.)


I also spent two weeks as an online scorer with Pearson. For a little while, I was doing all three at one time and that is just damned exhausting and I've hardly seen my heathens. Thankfully, Pearson ended before I did, so now I can just have the two jobs and try to formulate a plan somewhere along the way for the next step. I don't think I really take steps, though. Life has been more like swinging from one vine to the next and hoping like hell I don't grab hold of a snake's ass along the way.

Also, a deer attacked my car while I was driving. It still goes forward, but I was pulled over during a license check and I'm pretty sure deputies were laughing at my car. That was awkward.

So that's the current state of KAR. 

As some of you may recall, my last post was about helping my grandaddy. He was a very fastidious man so baths would last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours because he'd have me bathe him at least twice. At one point, he and my step-grandma, Marie, thought they'd try having a home health worker come out to bathe him because Marie was worried it was too much for me to handle. The lady came out and bathed him. Once. He said, "That was good, now do it all again." Apparently, the poor woman  thought she'd failed in some way and couldn't understand that a second go-round was a part of the process, so Marie decided a utilizing a home health worker was not a feasible plan.
 
In February, we were bathing in the shower two or three days, but by late March his health had deteriorated so greatly that we were reduced to once-a-week baths in a reclining chair. The last bath I gave him was on April 28th. Grandaddy was so give out that he couldn't get out of his chair by himself anymore. I had to pick him up from the chair and hold him while he walked the two feet to the "bathing recliner." He was in a lot of pain, but feeling clean was so important to him that he was willing to bear it.

For the three months I helped him bathe, he always wore his jockey shorts while I bathed him. I'd have to move his legs up and down to bathe them and he'd cup his spidery fingers over his personals while to make sure I wasn't accidentally subjected to seeing grandaddy penis.

On the first weekend in May, Marie called me to help grandaddy get out of his recliner so he could sit on the portable toilet. I came that Saturday and he was exhausted, reduced to wearing a diaper because he couldn't always make it to the toilet. That was the first and only time I saw his business, because he was too weak to preserve that privacy and that's when I knew the time had finally come. That was also the first time I'd allow myself to feel the pain that had been building up in me over those months and I finally allowed myself to cry.

On May 6, my grandaddy slipped into a coma and never woke up. He died around 2:10 that afternoon. When our funeral home people came to take his body, Marie applied lipstick and kissed him goodbye. She told them to leave her kiss and if I know Rick and Larry, they left her kiss on his cheek.

He died on a Thursday and they buried him on Friday. A lot of people were shocked that we'd been so quick to put him in the ground, but that's exactly what he wanted and Marie was so proud of herself because she managed it in 23 hours. (Marie is known for chronic tardiness, so he would be pleased she'd gotten everything completed according to his provided time line.)



There are a lot of things I learned in those months. One thing I learned is that while we'd always revered my grandaddy as the all-knowing patriarch, he never stood alone in his duties. Marie was always in the background and she never shined like he did (he was a very charismatic person), but she was truly his other half. I don't think I'd ever understood how so many of us take her for granted until I watched her care for him all those weeks and months and while she'd grow agitated, she'd never think of putting him in a nursing home. Marie has always been a strong woman like that and never expected any special recognition for it. There are very few people in the world like her and I'm not one of them. If I'm going to do something, I expect a ribbon or a gold star or at least a certificate of recognition.

In my lifetime, I've never known any other relationship that was as whole as my grandparents. They did not always agree and they weren't always happy with each other, but they always loved each other and committed themselves to their marriage. That is a very rare thing.

Once, when we still taking showers, I'd walked out to get Marie because she was the one who helped him bathe his other areas. Unfortunately, she'd gotten tied up on the phone and couldn't get away. Worried that he shouldn't be in the shower by himself, I went back in to make sure he was okay.

Grandaddy heard the bathroom door open and he thought it was Marie.

"Hey, sug," he said and it was with so much love and relief. Just so much. I'd never understood quite what their relationship was like that because they hadn't littered the world with giant displays of affection - their love and affection were always kind of  between the two of them, I guess. But I could hear all his feelings for Marie in those two words, so I felt myself to be a rather sad replacement for the person he wanted.

"Grandaddy, Marie's on the phone. She said she'd be here in a minute," I told him. He was quiet for a moment and then he muttered "Dammit." Then he shoved his wet underwear out from behind the shower curtain and said, "Here, take these."  So there we were, me holding my grandaddy's wet drawers and he waiting for his wife of forty years to walk through the bathroom door.

I thought I was going to be so much sadder than I am, but I'm not. I miss my grandaddy, but mostly I am at peace. My grandaddy lived life on his terms and he died mostly on his terms. I know that I did something those last few months and as selfish as it sounds, I faced my own fears and pain and became someone better for it.

A couple of days after the funeral, Marie and I were sitting in the living room talking about things and she said she'd never seen him smile at anyone sweeter than he did me when I helped him take a bath. Of course, I had to tell her about the day I ended up holding a balled up bundle of wet drawers waiting for her to get off the phone and how much love was in his voice. We had a good chuckle. And that's what we do. We laugh and remember the sweetness of life.

Peace. 

3 comments:

Sandy D. said...

That was beautiful, KAR. What a wealth of wonderful description from a simple "Hey, sug"....and how lucky your grandad was to have Marie and you.

Amie said...

beautiful

mary bailey said...

I'm glad to finally read a post from you, again. This was a beautiful tribute to both of your grandparents. They blessed you, as you were a blessing to them.

 
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