My grandmother is a remarkable woman. She raised five children and lost her husband when the youngest was a teenager. She has traveled the world and been an active, loving part of her community. All my life she has been there at holidays, births, baptisms, weddings and lots of visits. At grandma’s house we are always welcome.
She’s ninety now. All her life she has feared being sent away in her old age. So far she’s done extremely well. She lives on her own, keeps active, she still drives even. All up until a couple of weeks ago. She has had some trouble with her eyes and has regular appointments to look after them. The last time something went wrong and she was left looking through a thick fog – we hope the damage is not permanent.
So suddenly everything has changed. Her children have been trying to talk her into moving into a retirement home for a long time now, but she has resisted. Now she is afraid. Suddenly her independence is finding her lonely and unsure.
I find it remarkable that in the final years of our lives we become as dependent as we were in our beginnings. I clean, clothe and feed my nine month old, she takes my hands and I help her to walk. My grandmother is learning the patience and humility of an elderly lady who allows her children and grandchildren to steady her as she walks, help her unlace her boots, shop and clean for her. She is giving up her independence because she must. That makes her one of the bravest people I know.