Old age can really stink. My husband's grandmother is 89 and has always been sharp, feisty, and independent. Despite heart disease, diabetes and all the other issues that come with those problems, she comes out swinging. But now her memory is starting to go. She can't remember if she took her meds, so the doctors have told her it's time to head to assisted living. She's resigned but not terribly pleased. I guess there is only so much bingo she can handle.
We recently went down to Florida to pack up and clean out her house, as she is in the hospital and won't be returning home. It's amazing to pack up a life. Especially when she's still living and might have an opinion of what little bit she can take to the home.
Here is what I learned:
1. Just because you are old doesn't mean you can't be a bit of a fashion diva. The styles may not be current, but that woman has a LOT of clothes. In fact, I don't think she's ever thrown anything out. She just laughed and nodded when I pointed it out.
2. There are undergarments out there that I didn't even know existed. At one point, I was elbow deep in a drawer of old lady undies, trying to get all the clothes packed. I didn't always understand the sizes and shapes of what I was seeing. But it was all natural colored.
3. Older women still like wearing hose. Stockings, knee highs, panty hose, 5,000 more pairs of nude knee highs, all rolled up like donuts. Did I mention all the knee highs?
4. Younger generations are wasteful. When going through kitchen cabinets, forget about tupperware or Gladware. Multiple old Cool Whip containers do the trick. I did not, however, think they would be good in the dishwasher. According to her, I was mistaken. We learn from our elders.
5. We get colder as we get older. Her toilets were covered with terry cloth seat covers, so I'm to understand that the cold applies to all areas. I made my husband remove those, as I just don't think that's sanitary. But she lived alone, so she should be comfortable. I don't begrudge her a warm back side.
6. We all want a piece of our history. She claimed that all the stuff was junk and we could throw it all away. My kids, on the other hand, found treasures at every turn. My daughter claimed a teddy bear dressed in elaborate lace and pearls, sitting in a large wicker wing back chair (that is aces for a 6-year-old). My son fell in love with the hedgehog lawn ornament from her front flower bed and named it Hortense. My husband found a box of old military papers and personal letters and travel journals.
We all now feel more connected to the past and she feels good knowing that her life has been seen and that someone thinks it is still important.