Written by, Julie Brown
My name is Julie Brown and I have 3 young kids. We live in little rambler in a regular neighborhood and I am blessed to be a stay at home mom. I enjoyed my growing up years in a close knit family with both sets my grandparents living close by. When my grandfathers passed away, my mother was a caregiver to both my grandmothers. I assisted my mother in caring for my sweet grandmothers even before I had children.
During the summer of 2013, as both of my grandmothers aged and my own mother’s health was less than desirable, my role as their caregiver took on more responsibilities. I went daily for a few hours to help my father’s mother, who still lived in her own home across the street from my parents. I worked hard getting her home back in shape including washing her drapes, windows and other deep cleaning that hadn’t been done in years. I also went to the store for her and did yard care. I enjoyed helping her this way because I was so close to her growing up and when there was trouble at my own home, I had her shoulder to go cry on.
After about a month, my grandmother fell and broke her pelvis. She had to go to a rehab center to get back on her feet again. I kept up my daily routine of visiting her and taking her laundry home to wash. There was not a lot I could do, but I knew it was important to show her I cared. I would rub her feet, brush her hair and sometimes just sit and hold her hand. I hoped she would be able to come home, but after a month and a half it became apparent to me that she was not going to make it. It was hard to see her struggle so much to get better. At the end of September grandmother passed away in the night. She was such an amazing example to me and I was so happy that I was able to spend time with her before her death.
At age ninety, my mom’s mother had diabetes. She used a walker to get around and required help dressing, bathing, and having her food prepared for her. Back in her day, she was a great mother who had 10 kids and was a wonderful seamstress. I remember going to Grandma as a young girl for help on all of my sewing projects. I also learned how to knit and make covered hangers from her. It was difficult to see how hard it was for Grandma to do anything in her later years, knowing the independent and self-sufficient lady she had been.
My mother became unable to take care of Grandma, so I told her she could come and live at my house and I would take care of her. Being blessed as a stay at home mom, I am home most of the time anyway. I knew it would be more work than I was used to, but was happy to do this for Grandma. I felt like her time here would be short and having her live with us would provide an opportunity for my children to get to know their great- grandma even better and a chance to build cherish memories of her.
I can’t say it was easy. Every morning I felt like by the time I had everyone ready in the house it was time to make lunch. I also felt like I couldn’t go places much because I needed to make arrangements for my grandma. However, the hardest part of it all was how picky she was with her food. Many times I would give her options of what she could eat and would make the meal of her choice just to present it to her and have her change her mind, or think it didn’t taste good. Knowing that she needed to eat, I would fix her something else. Of course I would never let my kids get away with that, and they couldn’t understand why I was happy to make something else for Grandma and not them. I would tell them, “When you are 90 years old, you can be picky too.”
Many times in the night she would get up for one reason or other and I would quickly get out of bed to help her back into bed. She would sometimes think she wasn’t dressed for bed when she was, or she wanted to put her teeth in the cup to soak and they already were. I would just gently tell her that everything was taken care of and she should go back to bed. It made some days hard when I ran on so little sleep—especially coupled with nights when I also needed to get up with my small children.
To get though the hard times, such as cleaning up after an accident all over the floor, I would use humor. She would apologize when she made messes that needed cleaning and I would say, “How did you know I needed to mop the floor?” I also reminded myself often that she was not going to be here much longer and I was honored to take care of her.
Last month, after taking care of Grandma for about 3 and half months, she passed away. I miss her so much and I miss taking care of her. I am so very thankful I had the chance. Every night she would squeeze my hand and tell me how much she loved me and was thankful for me for taking care of her. I would not change that for the world. In the last days of her life, I felt strongly that my grandfather was very pleased with how lovingly I took care of her, which made it all worth it. What a great blessing and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!
Thank you Julie for sharing your inspiring story and tribute to your grandmothers. I added quotes that reminded me of mine and your grandmothers. What a wonderful granddaughter you are!