Monday, February 2, 2009

Only the lonely

My grandmother called me yesterday to wish me a happy birthday. Very rarely does she ever call me, February 1st is pretty much the only time. She is pretty hard of hearing, but she is 89 years old. I would not expect her to have the most acute of ears. These calls are usually rather short. She says "happy birthday," I thank her and we ask each other how the other is then the conversation is done. This time was a little different, and I don't think I've ever talked on the phone with her for as long as I did. And it was only about five or six minutes.

After the usual pleasantries she went on to talk about how she does not see me very often, or anyone else. My mother talks to her usually once a day, but she does not see her that often. Her sister who she used to spend quite a bit of time with, in person and on the phone, has a mind that is slipping more and more with each passing day. Her brother and his wife are in poor health and going in and out of different hospitals. My grandfather, her husband and my mom's dad, died when I was two. Since then my grandma has lived alone, and created what could only be described as a rat's nest. For as long as my parents can remember she has been something of a pack rat, but it was leveled out by my grandfather. After his passing the house that I used to be able to navigate through, now has only the smallest path from the front door to the kitchen, bathroom and her bedroom. To my knowledge she does not watch TV, but AM radio is on at all times. I could hear it blaring in the background during our conversation yesterday.

When my grandfather died in 1982 she got a clerical job at Longhorn Dodge, the same dealership he worked at, for some extra money and to keep busy. She drove herself to work everyday and did her job perfectly well. There were even trips to the courthouse and post office for different office purposes weekly. Eventually they took away the trips for her and passed that along to someone else. She was a little upset by this, but could deal. Then about a year ago my mom got a phone call from one of her bosses who wanted her to know that they were cutting back some staff and they were letting my grandma go. As if her lack of social gatherings or visits were not bad enough now they took away her one piece of "life" she had left. At the time she was very upset by the loss of her job, and the woman who never slept past around 4:30 in the morning was now sleeping in until 10:00 or so, because she had "nothing else to do."

Needless to say the phone call was a bit awkward, but I can only imagine how she feels. I feel like I should go see her and spend some time with her, Jennny thinks so to, but what are we going to do? She does love Taco Bell Mexican Pizzas, but it's not like before/after we can sit around and talk at her house. For one I probably couldn't maneuver through the stacks of newspaper and boxes, and for two - what are we going to talk about? I probably sound mean or heartless and that is not what I intend. You have to repeat everything to her because she can't hear you and I don't really know what to repeat at top volume.

I can remember her from my childhood and all the time we spent together and it breaks my heart to think this woman has lived 89 years and this is the merit - sitting home alone and kicked to the curb by your job.


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