One of the things I’ve noticed about Grandma’s journey through old age is just how isolated she has become. Being alone is nothing new to her. She lived alone for 30-plus years before she moved in with my Mom. Back then she was a lot more mobile and had the option of leaving her apartment to seek out social interaction among her neighbors and friends when she wanted to.
Now she’s hundreds of miles away from everyone she used to know with only me and our home-health aid for company. It doesn’t help that her hearing is poor even with hearing aids (when she remembers to wear them and turn them on). Having a conversation is nearly impossible. Our conversations have devolved into little catchphrases that we throw back and forth at each other.
One of the stories Grandma shared with me shortly after she moved in was of two sisters. The older sister was frustrated that she couldn’t win an argument with a boy she knew. The younger sister said “Why don’t you just tell him: “Oh yeah..?” as though “oh yeah?” trumps any other argument. She told me that story dozens of times and got a kick out of it each time.
Now, when Grandma loses her train of thought while talking to me I’ll say “Oh yeah..?” and she’ll respond “Oh yeah..!” and we’ll laugh that neither one of us will be able to win. Nevermind that she has completely forgotten what she was trying to say to begin with.
She has brief moments of energy and clarity. Just last Saturday we had a short conversation. She complained that her mind has become “shattered”. When I pressed her to explain she said that it’s not that she doesn’t have thoughts…but that she can’t make the thoughts link together. It’s like her thoughts are a glass that’s been broken, so the pieces no longer fit together to form one unified whole.
I suppose it’s fortunate that this is happening at the same time as her energy is waning and she’s spending more and more time sleeping. When you aren’t awake very often you don’t need to be able to communicate very clearly. When Grandma got up late one recent morning I jokingly said to her “Well, at least one of us is well rested!”
Her response: “You aren’t putting all your energy into resting the way I am!”
I looked at her seriously for a moment…”Oh yeah..?”
Without missing a beat she said “Oh YEAH!” She then carefully turned her walker around and toddled off to the couch for a nap.