Yesterday… my brother came into town to visit Grampa. This is what the day looked like…
But first, a little more about my brother. He is a pilot. He had a few days off in-between schedules. So he came “home” for a very brief trip. (Well, this isn’t my brother’s “home” anymore – but it is still Grampa’s home.) I don’t get to see my brother very often so I more than enjoyed our time together. Every meal we ate consisted of some sort of mexican food!
We drove south to where Grampa lives. And on the way there I shared details with my brother on the different “modes” I’ve seen Grampa in. It’s been 6 weeks since Grampa moved into his new home and I’ve noticed the following frames of mind that he’s in: work mode, chit-chat mode or shut-down mode. Today he was in chit-chat mode.
Throughout the several hour visit it didn’t appear Grampa recognized either of us. He was speaking ABOUT us… but he didn’t recognize us. Several times he looked at me and called me by the name of my mother. I reminded him that I was her daughter… not his daughter. Which just confused him more. But we’ve learned that it does help his brain to tell him who we are. He pauses for a few seconds, looks at us again (blinking his eyes, literally)… he then looks back and forth from face to face and continues with the conversation.
My brother told Grampa about recent trips he had flown into areas of Wisconsin. My brother spoke of flights into many WI cities Grampa lived in, camped in and his children were born in. True to our family roots, we sat around and told stories.
As noted above, today Grampa was in his “chit chat mode”. When I first sat down in front of him he scooted forward in his chair, looked me right in the eyes, grabbed my hand and said “I’ve wanted to tell you. I got in trouble and was in jail.” I couldn’t tell if he was speaking in metaphor (being in a large room with other people, with locked doors at both ends of the wing) or if was really trying to tell me a story from his past.
(I was later told by mom that he WAS in jail … when he was in the army. Something about being AWOL. But I’ve been told the rest of those details are highly confidential and I am prohibited from sharing them in this format. Wink, wink…)
On several occasions, throughout yesterday’s visit, he asked about his Mom. He wanted to know if she was around. He wanted to know if she “lived here too”. I told him that she was in Heaven. Again, seeing his brain turn back “on” he paused for a few seconds. He looked into my eyes and then at my brother. And then he changed the subject.
I think on some level he knows he’s forgetting things… but he probably cannot figure out why. Instead of shaming him … we divert him down the right path and keep him at peace. We move along w/ the conversation and see if he “catches up” to us.
Whether he does or doesn’t… we still love him. He’s our “Big Man”, our Grampa!