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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Streets of New York

I'm back from NYC, possibly the greatest place in the world.

I joked that if there were any place where you could find "banana soft-serve" made just from bananas it would be NYC...we'll I found it! I didn't get any because I had just bought a sandwich and was walking back to my grandmother's nursing home on the upper east side, but I did walk in just to make sure it was what I thought it was...and it was! It's called "The Soft Serve Fruit Co" and it's frozen fruit mixed with water and sugar into soft-serve. I almost asked if you could get it without the added sugar (so unnecessary), but I was in a rush to get back to my grandma. What a wicked city!

Of course NY is also a place where you can see all kinds of crazy. I've seen people walking ferrets and cats on leashes, I've seen a man barking like a dog in a subway car, I've seen people dressed up in all sorts of nutty get-ups. On this trip, however, I was the one who probably looked a little half-cocked.

On Wednesday I walked all the way from my grandma's nursing home, around 72nd and 1st Ave to her apartment at 39th and 2nd Ave wearing broken sunglasses with one lense missing. I was not aware of this, I might add. I did notice something was up, but I was feeling so emotional and tired, that I thought I just needed to rest. I kept taking off my sunglasses, thinking I was seeing spots. Somehow that whole time I didn't notice I was missing a lense until I got back to the apartment. What a dork I am!

Yesterday was a difficult day. After my cousin Martin and I spent some time with my grandma she needed a nap (she sleeps a lot now!). Martin headed off because he needed to catch a bus back to Albany and I went out for a walk and to pick up some lunch. I got back just as grandma had woken up, so I sat down to eat and chat with her. After about an hour, she stared hurrying me out the door. Not in a hostile way, but in a - as my uncle put it - "Go out and live your life" way. I was so emotional, I kept hugging her and telling her I loved her and very reluctantly left.

This was honestly the hardest goodbye I have ever had. It felt so final. Will I ever see her again? If I do, will she still know who I am? I became overwhelmed and when I stepped out onto the street I wept, like really sobbed. I must have looked nuts, as I cried for block after block, but after a while I really didn't care, I was just very sad.

I am obviously not the first one to make this observation, but THERE IS NO DIGNITY IN GETTING OLD. My grandmother is still beautiful and loving and wonderful, but she alternates between periods of being relatively lucid and incredibly confused.

She suddenly burst into tears realizing her parents are dead and talking about how wonderful they were. She refuses to accept that she is never going back to her apartment and said she hopes to visit all of us in Canada again in the fall.

Grandma remembers Adam and Big A, but not Little A. She sometimes talked as if my grandpa was still alive.

Grandma has also started telling some very tall tales, which is actually quite amusing. They are so outrageous, we were marvelling over her creativity. My uncle suspects it may be a side effect of one of her medications.

Most of the other residents of my grandma's nursing home were in much worse condition. Wheelchair bound, unable to care for themselves in any capacity, it was heartbreaking to see. My grandmother's roommate did not get out of her bed the entire week and was asleep most of the time. Apparently she has been there for years. I barely saw her even talk or eat anything either.

It's a stark reminder that we should try to appreciate the important things - like our family, health and freedom, and try to let the other stuff go (the size of our butts, material things, etc.). I doubt any of these women were thinking, "I wish I had bought more pairs of $300 shoes."