I am a born procrastinator. I will let the laundry pile up until it cascades down into the basement of its own volition. I still have a birthday present for a friend of C’s sitting in my room from a party we missed two months ago, but I haven’t yet made it to the post office to mail it. Hey, I’ve even been known to procrastinate on blogging. You should see the litter of unfinished blog entries on my computer.

Right now I’m procrastinating on going to see my grandma. She’s not doing all that well, according to the aunts at least, and even my dad got on the phone after we missed the family Thanksgiving get-together to ask when I thought I was making it up to visit her. So I know I need to make the trip up, probably with both kids in tow. And if I don’t make it soon I’ll probably regret it. But I can’t quite seem to commit to a date.

I’m not quite sure why I can’t bring myself to pick a time to go visit her. Is it my fear of seeing what it is like to be old, frail, and uncertain when one used to be young, vibrant, and determined? Is it because I hate to replace my current memories of Grandma with ones of her wheelchair-bound and confused? Probably and probably.

It is hard for me to reconcile the woman I remember from my childhood with the one who now sits in a wheelchair and can’t quite remember which of her children I belong to. I’m never sure what I am supposed to say when I speak with her. I ramble on about my kids, but since she’s unclear on who I am, I’m certain it just confuses her even more. When I ask about her activities she is silent. She used to be so opinionated, so clear, so determined. Now it seems like she is just waiting to die. And I’m not good at dealing with that.

My grandmother was one of the first female pediatricians, and practiced right up until she was 86 years old. Her “kids” were her patients, not my dad and his sisters, and certainly not me and my cousins. As a young child she scared me silly. She was stern and rigid. Things were done her way, or they would be redone her way if you dared to stray. She actually washed our mouths out with soap when we talked back. So do I have fond, loving memories of my grandmother? Not so much.

But when I was broke and uncertain what I was doing with my life, she let me live with her for a year rent-free in Brooklyn while I commuted to a dead-end job in NYC. When she realized I was in a dead-end job, she coerced me into applying to graduate school and supplied me with the needed funds to tide me over until my scholarships kicked in. While she was never a warm and fuzzy lots of hugs type of grandmother, she has, in her own way, been there for me when I needed her.

And I know that even though she probably doesn’t remember my name, or that I lived with her for a year, or that I got married to a man who reminded her of her husband, or that C’s middle name was her maiden name, if I show up and bring her some wildflowers I will make her day. It’s hard to justify the procrastination when I look at it like that.



  1. Go for the visit. It might be hard, but you’ll be glad that you did it. For the smile that the wildflowers bring, and for yourself.

    I made a trip to visit my grandmother when she was in the hospital, and she passed away shortly after. I was so glad to have had that last visit with her and that last hug.

  2. You’ll feel so much better, in the long run, if you go. (But of course you know that, too.)

    I totally understand putting off the visit, though. I visited my grandparents every week when they were in the nursing home, and each week I would have to talk myself into going. Not because I didn’t love them but because each visit was incredibly sad and difficult.

    Thanks for sharing your memories of your grandmother. She sounds like quite a formidable presence!

  3. Phantom Scribbler says:

    I find it almost impossible to bring myself to visit my grandma: we were close, and it hurts so much to see her in this state. Especially since I know that ending up like this was her worst nightmare — she watched her own parents go through the same thing. And I have to admit that seeing her gives me alarming frissons of my own mortality. As you say.

    But hey — if you come up to visit your grandma, perhaps there’s a South Station playdate in your future…

  4. It can be so hard to see a grandparent morph into someone you do not recognize. Something similar happened to my grandmother after a stroke, and it was indeed difficult to see her in a state so different than her former robust self.

    That being said, you probably should go even though it sounds like a tough trip with the kiddos and all.

    I agree with Suzanne, your grandmother sounds fascinating!

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