Caring for Grandpa, Acceptance, and a Poem.


When Grandpa (aka my Dad) first moved in, we struggled to figure out how to make things work. I thought it was my job to make him happy and healthy. I was trying too hard. Since then, things have gotten much better. We’ve moved toward acceptance.

I no longer plan and orchestrate his days to fill him up with mind and body enrichment activities. He’s not interested in daily showers, healthy meals, physical therapy, field trips and paper mâché hat making at the senior center. He’s old and he’s tired. He wants to shower when the mood strikes. Or not. He likes to eat what tastes good. He likes to sit on the couch and surf the channels with the volume cranked up. He especially likes when I sit there too. He enjoys my company. I accept all that.

Grandpa has moved toward acceptance too. He accepts that sometimes I wear earplugs while I sit with him. He accepts that I can’t sit on the couch all day long. I just can’t. And he accepts that sometimes I have to get the hell out of the house.

It’s working out now. We’ve reached a level of contentedness that seems to suit us both. Today.

Below is a poem that I wrote back when we were still struggling.

(For the record, I have brothers and sisters. They’re ready and willing to look after GP. I live in Florida though, destination newlywed and nearly dead. It just makes the most sense for him to be here with me)

I Got Daddy

It’s okay, I say
Ma, you can go
Her lips move, nothing
I dip the sponge in water
Insert it into her mouth

She lightly sucks the moisture
Try again, I encourage
Daddy, she whispers
It’s a question
Don’t worry Ma, I got daddy

She searches my face
I tell her again
She closes her eyes
Final tears leak out
Don’t worry ma, I got daddy

The podiatrist, audiologist
Radiologist and proctologist
Blood work, physical therapy
Ultrasounds and follow ups

At Barnes and Noble,
I linger close to the men’s room
When he comes out we’ll get some tea
Maybe a snack, high protein-low sugar

I’m halfway thru War and Peace
Finally, he emerges
Pale, sweaty, frightened
You okay? I ask

It’s a God-damned mess in there
Wait here, I say. I’ll clean it up.
No, he insists, lets go home
Alright then, I lead the way

He grips my arm as we scram outa there
Fast, at a snails pace
To our getaway car, in the handicap spot
I settle him in and buckle him up

I pretend my once sexy ride doesn’t stink like a nursing home
I search the radio for gangsta rap
To set the mood, I crank it up
We flee the scene of his unruly bowel movement

She’s gone a long time, he pleads
I’m tired of this
Do something, just give me some pills
Anything, promise you’ll try

We watch Wheel of Fortune
Like he used to with you
Afterwards, he goes to bed
Not sleepy, just tired of being awake

I slip out to the nail salon
I always choose Ming
She disregards my chewed up thumbs
Together we act like I’m not a mess

He sleeps late while I cook
Sausage and Bacon
Eggs, fried in grease
Toast, smothered in butter
Coffee, full strength, sweet with cream

He receives the greasy feast with a child’s delight
Then hesitates
What about the healthy stuff
Hell with all that, I shrug
Atta girl, he smiles, atta girl

Don’t worry Ma, I got Daddy

24 comments on “Caring for Grandpa, Acceptance, and a Poem.
  1. You do, you got him! I wanted my father too, but he would not leave the house (stubborn old man) and he does 4 months later!!! The guilt is still there! He is such a nice man from what I remember, he taught you to be kind! I imagine it’s not easy, but your mother is smiling down and clapping!

    • Thanks Andrea. Don’t feel guilty. We’ve got to let them decide & your dad wanted to stay home.
      GP went to Florida ,NY,Florida,Jersey and back to Florida before settling in.

    • Thanks Stephanie.
      I’ve made myself sound like a saint. It’s not like that. We’re just figuring it out as we go. All of us.
      You would do just fine. Thanks.

    • Thanks Monique! So happy you found and enjoyed. I hope you’ll subscribe. I’m new to blogging. It’s a work in progress. I’ve contracted with Freddie Fred (from our library class) to design a logo header thingy to put at the top of the home page. Can’t wait!

  2. Jeanne
    Wonderful post and a great poem ..
    Everything you said is so true..
    Sometimes you just have to go with it .. Whatever it is..
    You are doing a great job..
    Old habits are hard to break.. In the end , we are who we are..
    Enjoying the sounds and foods you have always liked are part of life..
    Bless all the caregivers out there doing their best
    Theresa Loder

  3. What a fantastic story and poem as you so kindly travel this road of aging with your father! So very proud to know you Jeanne!

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