Walking into the intensive care unit at the nursing home, I look around anxiously for my grandma. She’s my dad’s mom, named “Little Grandma” by my cousin Rachel when she was just 4 years old to differentiate her from “Big Grandma”, my mom’s mom. The name stuck.
Scanning the room, my eyes rest on her, sitting in her wheelchair, body slumped and sleeping while sitting there. She looks so tiny, overwhelmed by the size of the chair surrounding her. She’s 102 years old this year and the last time I saw her was a year ago.
Growing up, “Little Grandma” was there for me, filled with warmth and confidence in me and never doubting my abilities. As I grew into my teen years, she listened and supported me. She was a wonderful force for good in my life. But I’ve moved away to Wyoming while she has stayed in Wisconsin and I miss being close to her.
Quietly, I walk over to the wheelchair and pull a chair next to her. I sit by her “good” ear and gently touch her arm. “Grandma, it’s Vanessa, I came to see you.” It takes her a minute to comprehend that it’s me… “Vanessa?”
And so we’re off, reminiscing, chatting and laughing for 4 hours.
The nurse comes by and asks me… is she engaging with you? She looks incredulous. She doesn’t normally engage with us, she says.
I have had a week here and my purpose has been to spend time with grandma. I spent each day with her. Her mood varied and sometimes seemed in a fog and yet I seem to be able to reach her and we talked and she held my hand and I felt like I’d gone back in time and became her small granddaughter again.