Yes it is a holiday but it is only about an hour from grumpy grandad's hospital and so i decide to visit him, because i am feeling a lot better.
His hospitalisation and subsequent amputation was probably the last bowl of emotional spaghetti on my great big mental tray. i talk to my stepmum about this and I find myself saying that seeing him in bed so helpless and so sick and thinking early on that he was trick or treating on death's doorstep has probably brought up old scary stuff about mum dying, and the looking after, and the waiting for, and the watching her die, day by day by day.
And also, also...the future fear, the ms stuff, the fear of one day being bedridden and helpless and dependent and maybe that's why suddenly i was all gungho about seeing grumpy grandad daily, being not just independent but indispensible.
And these are heavy meals i'm trying to balance on my tray, stodgy, sloppy, carb-laden unpalatable bowls.
Which may explain why, on this holiday, i'm eating a lot of salad.
And meanwhile, i note these things about my grandfather:
Dad has shaved his head with clippers (at grandis's request) and now he looks like more of a pirate than ever. My sister K takes a photo and sends it to me via her mobile phone; shaven headed grandis with K's 8 week old baby on the pillow beside him.
i knew this was happening (the shaving of the head) but even so, i receive the photo in sydney while i am in mid-conversation and it is so startling I exclaim oh fuck mid sentence and then have to explain myself.
I am with my grandfather when the young spunky physio comes in to give him some exercises. Suddenly i am privvy to his stumpleg waving about, out, in, out, in. It is not quite as startling as the photo of his shaved head but it looks like an escaping lamb roast, uncooked.
I note that he is quite jolly with cute sassy physio whereas he is quite rude to the male nurse whom he refers to as a WASTE OF SPACE, I say shhhh Grandis and so he lowers the volume to a gentle roar . He instructs me to write down the exercises that cute sassy physio gives him to do. I do so, in large letters, and then he gets me to borrow some surgical tape from one of the other nurses (one of the ones that he likes) so i can tape the exercises up next to his bed.
The blonde doctor with beautiful skin and flawless pores comes into the room. She tells me that Grandis is her star pupil. He pretends he can't hear what she is saying so that she has to say it again, louder and closer to his ear. His eyes are twinkling. I begin to tell her about how well he did with his exercises but he bellows over the top of me. It's almost like the Grandis of old, before the falls and the nursing lodge.
STAR PUPIL HMMM? WELL EVERYONE NEEDS A STAR, WHETHER IT'S A RISING STAR OR A FALLING STAR...
I glance across at Dr Flawless Pores and she actually giggles and says...mmm very wise.
Good lord, i think. My grandfather is flirting with his doctor.
Today i come in to visit him again and he tells me all about his day, the staff who have been visiting, the doctors, the specialists. I tell him about the wonderful holiday and the horses and paddocks and we talk about my parents and how they are moving soon into their new house.
IT WILL BE CHRISTMAS AND HOUSEWARMING ALL IN ONE he observes.
We talk about his options, the future, he wants to just focus on getting from POINT A TO B THAT'S MY FIRST PRIORITY and I nod, yes that sounds a good plan. We talk about false legs and wheelchairs. we talk about him needing help to shower and toilet .
And we talk about christmas, how that may work, where he might be. I can't help thinking how sharp he is, his mind whirring and clicking, he's bored but he's still here. Mentally he's better than i've seen him for months, even before the operation, and the falls.
As I leave the hospital i talk to the discharge nurse and she tells me that he's been rejected for rehab. Not an appropriate candidate. Bed and chair only. Next stop will be the nursing home.
I stare at her and my face must crumple a little. i tell her that he is focusing on getting up, getting from point a to point b. She nods and repeats to me, not unkindly, (she's one of the nice ones after all) he's only suitable for bed and chair.
And i nod and thank her and leave.
One thing about being in the country. You do see a lot of stars. Tricky likes to be held up at night so he can point them out.
Tonight, back at the holiday house, i will be watching stars alongside my toddler.
Both the rising and the falling.
One positive story ...from the USA
2 days ago