A visit with my grandfather

By Katharine Swan On Friday, June 22, 2007 At 11:29 AM

Some of you may remember me mentioning some weeks ago that my step grandmother had died. Afterward, my mom and I made plans to visit my grandfather for 8 days (a big deal because when she was alive, she would only let us come for a few days at a time). I just got back last night.

Nothing was quite what I expected. First of all, thinking of how quiet my grandpa had been last time I saw him (September 2005), I was expecting him to be even frailer now. I was planning on spending afternoons and evenings working, because I figured my grandpa would be pretty tired most of the time. I was also expecting to have plenty of opportunities to go down to the computer room in the main lodge of the retirement center, and hook in to their DSL connection.

The truth of it was, my grandpa turned out to be doing better than any of us expected. With my step grandmother no longer around to snap at him, he is not tuning out conversations as much anymore, and surprises you by joining in when you least expect it. He's still rather forgetful, but even that isn't as bad. He hears better, talks more, remembers more. I guess that's how much of a difference one person -- plus or minus -- can make in someone's life.

Of course, my step grandmother passing away didn't cure my grandpa of old age. He still is fairly frail: He needs the walker even for short distances, and a wheelchair for long distances because he gets too tired walking it on his own. He has full-time help now, because he's fallen so many times (my step grandmother refused to let him have any help while she was alive); they help him do things that are becoming difficult for him now, such as showering, getting dressed, making breakfast, etc., and they make sure he doesn't fall and hurt himself. However, all in all I'd say he's doing remarkably well for almost 95 years old!

Anyway, as it turned out I didn't end up having as much time to work as I'd hoped. (Why do I always go into vacations thinking I can get work done?) The first few days I did, but that was only because we saved all of the things we had planned for the last half of the vacation: We scanned family pictures that my grandpa and my mom's cousin have, made dinner plans with relatives, celebrated Father's Day with the family, and played Bingo at the retirement center (my grandpa loves Bingo night). As busy as the last four or five days were, I didn't even get much time to make the trip to the computer lab and get online. I checked email and blogged a couple of times, and that was really about it.

Even our return trip didn't leave much time for working. We ate lunch with my grandpa and my uncle downtown, and then took the bus out to the airport. I'm not much for pulling out my laptop on the bus, unless I know it's going to be a really long ride, so I didn't work there. And I didn't work while we waited at the gate, because I couldn't find a plug, and wanted to make sure I had enough battery power to use my laptop the entire flight. Unfortunately, the person who sat in front of me leaned her seat all the way back, making it impossible to have my laptop out with her already taking up most of my lap. (And, no, I'm not the kind of person to make a scene about something like that.)

I didn't get home until nearly 11pm last night, since we had to stop on the way home to get dinner (it had been 10 hours since I'd eaten lunch). By then, I was exhausted and had a splitting headache, so needless to say I didn't do any work then, either.

Waking up at home this morning after being gone for just over a week was really something. Everything is so familiar and cozy, and it's so nice to be back to my usual schedule -- more or less, that is. I'm going to make a noble effort to get organized today: I'll contact all my clients (most of whom knew there was a chance I wouldn't be able to work while I was gone), figure out what I need to get caught up on and by when, etc. Most of playing catch-up I'll leave for next week, however. There's just no way I can get it all done today!

Happy Friday, everyone. It's good to be back!

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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