May 1, 2012
I called my grandparents at 11:30ish today to remind them to take their pills like I've been doing for the past few weeks. My grandfather said they were just getting out of bed. I asked him if he'd still like to have dinner tonight and he happily agreed. I told him I'd come pick them up at 5:30 and was planning on taking them to Cheung Hing, the new restaurant my mom showed me a couple weeks ago when we all went out together.
My grandfather called me at 4:15 telling me that my grandmother wasn't feeling well and he didn't think we should have dinner anymore. I told him that I'd just bring over food. He and Grandma passed the phone back and forth talking to me until they agreed that I could come over and bring food. I talked to my mom and she said she'd come with me and I told her I'd order food from Ming's. I got most of the dishes right, but I think my pronunciation as well as my understanding of "steamed chicken," which turned into "boiled chicken" by the time I tried to order it, ended up turning into foil-wrapped chicken. At least it tasted good. All's well that ends well for the white girl in a Chinese body.
We brought the food over and my grandfather didn't answer the door. I knocked loudly and yelled into the mailbox slot, but no one came and the house was quiet, not even a blaring television to break the silence. My mom got her keys out and opened the door. My grandfather didn't look surprised at all to see us and was completely engrossed in replacing the toilet paper roll. I went in to find my grandmother still in bed. She said she was feeling better though, and wanted to get up and have dinner with us, which made me smile. However, it took her a really long time to get out of bed. My mom discovered my grandfather was still trying to make her wear the hard to use diapers that had some sort of belt attachment instead of the pull-on underwear kind that my parents had bought for them. He claimed that he didn't know he had the other ones, but we knew he just didn't remember. My mom was really frustrated.
I helped my mom put the mattress pad she'd brought for them on their bed, and my grandmother went to the bathroom saying she'd change into the new diaper herself. We still don't know what happened to the diaper in there, but she wasn't wearing it when she came out of the bathroom. She insisted on going into my grandfather's old room as well and shutting the door to the patio even though she was huffing and puffing and was obviously weakened significantly from the effort. She finally agreed to sit down at the table and my mom began to go through their pills while we served dinner from the takeout boxes.
My mom started yelling at my grandfather because she discovered that he had found some strange old triangular pills and had added them to my grandmother's daily routine.
"What are these?!" my mother demanded. "Where did they come from? Why are you putting extra pills in here?!"
My grandfather, just as stubborn and angry, shouted, "It said 'Lily Warren' and 'AM!' I didn't know what it was and it wasn't in the sample, but it had her name on it so I put it in there!"
"Why are you doing that? You should NOT be adding pills! I set it all up for you! Why are you adding pills? You know that's probably why she's sick! Because she's taking pills she's not supposed to!"
It went on and on like this, back and forth. My grandfather not taking any of the blame, and not admitting to wrongdoing. My mother just wants him to listen, and he just wants to explain how it wasn't his fault. Lots of yelling later, I think he finally understands and my mother and I go on a search for any old pills to make sure it doesn't happen again.
My grandmother finally gets to the table and she's groaning periodically between bouts of amazement at the food on the table.
"Ai-ya... ai-ya... ai-ya..." she says, with a grimace on her face.
"Oh my goodness! Look at all this food! And it looks so fresh and good! And I'm so hungry!"
She eats a few bites and then goes back to staring into space, muttering in pain. Then she gets excited again and starts talking to us about food. At one point, it's like she's waking up from a coma and she asks about everyone. I think it's because I'm wearing an abercrombie & fitch shirt (yes, I know, shh) and she keeps asking about my dad's old friend, Charlie Fitch. Then she starts asking about my grandfather's brothers, and it's a long list of the dead. It would be more depressing if it didn't happen all the time. My poor grandfather. He remembers. My grandmother will forget again in another few minutes.
My mother and I discover that my grandparents are all out of 7up and juice (the only things my grandmother likes drinking) and they really don't have much food around. I periodically wonder if she get sick / weak from just not eating because my grandfather forgets that he didn't feed her and she can't remember to eat herself. We offer to go pick them up some juice and soda and finally my grandfather agrees.
We drive to Safeway and my mom and I talk about alternatives for my grandparents, but there doesn't seem to be anything we can agree on. She is convinced that he can still take care of them and just slips up sometimes, and I think they need constant care.
"You have to get a doctor to write a prescription for that," my mother says. So far I guess they haven't been able to convince the doctor that my grandparents need this help. It probably doesn't help when my grandparents are constantly refusing help with unwavering stubbornness.
We return to their house with some snacks and many boxes of juice and cans of 7up. My grandfather insists on giving us a hundred dollar bill because he already feels bad that we paid for dinner. When we leave, my mother insists that I keep it.
"You'll probably end up buying more groceries for them anyway," she says. I shrug and drive us back to my house so my mom can pick up her car. I hug her goodbye and I briefly take a mini mental vacation where I fantasize about winning the lottery so that I don't have to think about work and how it prevents me from taking care of my grandparents. I try not to let thoughts of this happening to my parents sneak in there, but they do anyway and I think about how I should have two kids so that it's not just one of them having to worry about old incapable me all alone.