She Had a Stroke But It Didn't Stop Her

Being Filipino I knew many grandma and met the one I came from when I was young.  I was also there when she past away but we were never close. Just a remembrance of who she was.

This grandma was the one who brought me into the states.  Born and partially raise in the Philippines i was always traveling back and fourth just to file papers of getting adopted by some uncle and aunt i never knew but met once.  The aunt saw us at my mom's funeral and felt the need to adopt us for just a better life. Its always about a better life, why then do people adopt?

For a week my grandma Pat and her husband Gregory came for an annual festival in there hometown and it was just about the time we were going over. I was a child, what did I know of planes, crossing over thousands of miles and oceans beneath us? All I knew was this place some where far called America. Yeah, so after getting acquainted with the folks taking us on a plane I was just as happy as ever. Well me and my older sister of course.

Having been in California learning knew things and finding out what public schools was all about was a big change.  Then that same year in the early months of summer my grandma had a stroke.  She lost feeling to her left side, mainly on her legs.  The operator told us to keep blood flowing by rubbing her feet downward for a while until the ambulance came. Looking back it was only a 2 mile drive the hospital in our area. But who was I to tell? I didn't even know how many houses stood on our lane. The next thing i remember after a couple of days she came back with a wheelchair.  Huh? Well at least she was alright.  For months the hospital sent over a house nurse to check up on her and told us the few things she needed to keep alive and better for the next few years.

She had a drastic change of diet. No more fatty pork products or fried fish for her. It became evident that fish and vegetables were her main lunch and dinner. She didn't stray away from what the doctor told her to eat and stubborn as she was she kept eating this way. "Oh no, I can't eat that the doctor didn't say anything about that." And so fourth about her health.  There was just a moment in my life that she was just someone who was going to live, walk about and just become another grandma but with her stroke it change my life.

For a while the first two years I had a few contact with her. Just the usual therapy of working out her left foot at night so she wouldn't get bed rest muscles and blood can flow freely. She could feel things just lost most of her muscle control on that leg.  So the taking a bath thing became my mom's (aunty) job with my sister. I had the pleasure of brushing some false teeth. No need to buy the solution to clean them out, i was someone who was just in the wrong place at the right time. Oh this young and healthy boy of 8 can do it.  Yeah I could see now where all this is going to show up.

Whenever she needed me, i was suppose to come to her aid. At first it was fine, then i became bored, and stop listening. I was 8 what am gonna do, lie that I didn't hear anything. That went real well. I made it worse by suggesting that she take one of the ceramic Christmas bell and use it to communicate her aid for help.  One of my first lesson to make life easier just to get out of doing the hard things in work.

One and a half later, her husband died. I was in the third grade and Christmas just suxs when you hear that someone close to you died. Even if he wasn't your real grandpa. My mom told me his last words to her was for me to take care of my grandma.  Way to put the pressure on that one grandpa.  But as diligent and humble as i was i did my best to keep her alive in my care.

We later had to share the same room, first floor for easy access to the bathroom.  I tied a co-mode next to her bed, so when late at night she can go to the potty without waken me up.  And when she slip and feel from not gripping properly i was right there listening to that bell. This time with the bell was cooper and it lasted longer. Who knew you could disassemble a ceramic bell. I was bad but i needed a time off during that week.  So i would get up, carry her back up to her bed or potty and go back to bed. It became a 16 hour job for this brat who wanted a simple life.  The chamber had to be empty when I woke up and when i came home from school. No matter what stuff was in that darn pot.  Who knew i could teach to hold my breath that long.

Her meals around 5Th grade became my issues. Yes I had an older sister and 3 girl cousins who i prefer like sisters.  In the morning it was grapefruit cut in half, depending on the seasons oatmeal, a bowl to wash her hands, her bowl of teeth and whats always fresh.  And always a couple glass of water.  We sure stocked up on grapefruit when she was with me.  For lunch and dinner it became the same thing.  Smelt fish boiled with carrots and celery.  The soup became thick when left in the refrigerator that i had to reheat it or use the microwave.  It became my job to make sure i looked ahead of time to know when she was gonna run out. If you have kids, then you'll understand the tantrums of your kids, but think of it as an adult doing it, and you know crap rolls down hill. So after many moments of repeating this i learned. The hard way but i learned.

For years, from junior high to high school i was her aid, the guy who had to skip school not to go to the doctor for my annual check up but to carry my grandma out of the car.  Hm mm, school or checking out the goldfish at the hospital? We went everywhere together, like peas in a pod one without the other unless someone took my place. Yeah who could be in charge for a couple of hours while I'm out to a family party somewhere? Ahhh haah its that sister of mine, heck she doesn't even like parties.  Yes this will work out.

The winters became hard for her.  She could stand it during the first years but no one knew she was gonna live this long.  Looking back on what I know about insulation on houses i sure could have made that woman stay in the states. But she prefer the comfy heat of the Philippine island. "I want to go back home and see my other kids and grand kids."  Each time referring how great her grand kids over there were.  It made me kinda jealous, "they aren't here, all you have is me so deal with it." things to that nature.  So one final two weeks our family most of it, took a trip with her and made sure she was well taking care of.  I passed down my knowledge of what I did with my grandma to her precious grand kids who are college students.  We made a waking path for her out of bamboo just like at home, so she wouldn't lose her muscles. 

She would claim to me how many times she did laps back and fourth on her walk about after i got home. And i encourage her to do better each day.  I maybe a kid, but i was also trying to heal her in my own ways.  Too bad they didn't have the Internet.  The massages at night became longer too, and i had to add time if i missed one day or two.  And if she wasn't satisfied she would start time all over again.  Gosh this woman was super needy.  But i had nothing else to do, bit my tongue and listen to the radio.

Years later after i got married i was stationed in Guam close enough to see my grandma. So i did and been the third time since we parted a while back, she was more frail.  White hair? She had a few when i last saw her, what have the few years down her down to her? Are her aids doing the right things that kept her well and healthy? And what's that smell? I develop a great sense of smell to adjust to her conditions if she was sick or well. Ammonia, uh this didn't look good. She stayed in the family room, still listened to the radio, this time it was in her language.  She was surprise to see me.  Laying down? This wasn't like her at all, the woman i knew was always sitting in that damn wheelchair i had to customize for her.  She was happy to see me, cried in her voices and tears rolling down that i came. I came to see her all the way from my normal life.  I was never blood related, but i owe her part of my 11 years that she was in my hands.  I couldn't think of nothing less.  After exchanging a few words, staying a little bit just to make what she was used too, i said my good byes and left.

Several months after that she past away. My mom called me and said "she died. did you want to go to her funeral?"  I had to deny it since i was going through my own struggle of getting a divorce.  She understood and we hung up.  How could it be? She was well a few months ago.  The twist was, when ever anyone wanted to do something for her about what she needed to do, she would say "That's not how Fer would do it. Your doing it wrong." And it turned out what i did increase her life, i just couldn't control the winter months.     

nrcsguy nrcsguy
31-35, M
1 Response Mar 6, 2009

wow you really have a way with words. This sounds like it came straight out of Reader's Digest. Very well written and somehow a reminder to us all of how valuable life and people are in our lives, because as we read it makes our minds wander back through our own lives and reminds us of a different time and place right down to how the air smelled differently back then! Very nicely written. I think this seems to me that it is section of what should be a novel you could develop, especially if/since your writing style is so consistent and the voice is so strong.<br />
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Besides the writing style, I know this is a true story. I am assuming this is the one you wanted me to read. It is amazing the way you cared about your Grandma so much and interesting how you were given such a heavy responsibility at such a young age.