When my brother and I were a lot younger (think middle school/high school), my grandparents had yet to hire any help. My grandma was still making all their meals and cleaning the house and my grandpa was still doing his own laundry.
My grandpa would, like clockwork, stop by our house right before lunch (11:30am) and dinner (5:30pm), ring our doorbell, and ask my brother and/or me to join them in their meal. We would often get annoyed, wanting to stay home and watch TV, relax, play with our dogs, and decline. My grandpa would smile, say “okay, no problem,” and go back home (next door). In the summer when my parents were both at work and my brother and I were home more often, my grandpa would extend these offers more often than not. We would decline upwards of 75% of the time.
It’s one of my huge regrets that I didn’t accept his offer more. My grandpa has been gone for more than a year and a half. They had a maid living in their house for about 3 years while I was in college, and the last maid quit sometime last year. My uncle, mom and I take turns in rotation spending the whole day with my grandma. My mom, 95% of the time, sleeps at my grandma’s house. We all take turns having dinner with her on our days of duty. It’s quiet. We don’t have much to talk about. My grandma’s hearing is almost as bad as her patience. She is a hard person to love, mainly because she can be so stubborn and set in her ways (apple and tree, I know.).
Sometimes when my grandma and I are eating dinner alone in silence (save for the TV in the background), I think about what it must have been like for my grandparents. They spent every single day together, and rarely had guests. We live right next door, though in our teenage ways, were bored of spending time with old people. We’d come over as obligation every weekend with our parents, but that was about it. We would sometimes even pretend like we weren’t home. It makes me sad.
I have to remind myself that none of my cousins even stop by on a weekly basis. It used to be monthly for some, but now it’s only at parties. We rarely have visitors. My grandma spends every day either with my uncle, my mom, or me, and there is a rotating schedule of who comes by for lunch or a visit every other day of the week. Today during lunch, my grandma said to herself, “Every day is the same, every day there’s no point to life, why am I still here all alone?” It broke my heart. I then proceeded to ask her questions about her upbringing, questions about my mom, aunts, and uncles. I asked her about my grandpa and how he treated her. I wanted to get her to feel like she was a worthy companion. She talked for 2 hours. I listened, nodded my head, smiled, reacted to her stories. She had so many.
I feel so sorry that my grandparents spent so many days and nights alone without family for so many years. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody’s grandparents. Getting old is rough. That deafening silence that we endure is hard. I wish more relatives would stop by. I wish people would call. I wish that my grandma could feel and see love all around her on a constant basis. But I have to remind myself that I shouldn’t regret things, I shouldn’t be so pessimistic. I should just do the best I can, while I’ve got the time to do it. While she’s here, I’m going to take damn good care of her, and not take for granted all the wisdom she holds, the history she represents, the love that she has always had in her heart for her family.
I miss my grandpa every day. He was my favorite person in the world, by far. I hope he knew how much I love him and what he meant to me. I hope he didn’t take those rejections too personally. I hope he knew we were just stupid teenagers.