I’m lucky in that both of my grandmas are 94 and still alive. They’re both in nursing homes. My dad’s mom is very realistic about needing help. My mom’s mom is totally delusional and had to be put in the home against her will (long story). My wife and I are visiting her on Sunday.
We’re going to meet my grandma for lunch on Sunday. She’s not so good at keeping her apartment in the nursing home clean, and is a pain in the ass to the staff there, so we’d really rather avoid going in the apartment. I called her and she complained,
“I’m in the middle of nowhere and can’t go any place unless someone takes me!”
(She spent all her life in Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago so being out in the still-densely-populated suburbs near my aunt’s house is “the middle of nowhere” by her definition.)
I offered to take her somewhere for lunch, even though she uses a walker and getting her in and out of a car is a giant production. But she insisted we meet her at the nursing home for lunch.
“Then you can see what I’m suffering through!”
So...here’s where I should back up. Yes I know this sounds awful and she’s in a terrible place, but it’s actually fine and she’s been a giant pain in the ass for decades about refusing to take care of any of her health problems. This is the second nursing home she’s been in, because she was too difficult for the staff at the first one that was still in the city, and this one is near my aunt.
In 2008, my friend and I stayed with my grandma at her old condo in Chicago when we went to Lollapalooza, rather than get an over-priced hotel. She was hacking and coughing like crazy, so I bought her a bottle of cough syrup.
In 2013, I was visiting her for some other reason, and she was again hacking and coughing. I asked her if she was alright, and she responded,
“Maybe I should open that bottle of cough syrup you bought me!”
Grandma be nuts, yo.
Anyway, back to the phone call just now. I once again offered to take her somewhere, since hey, she just said she doesn’t like the place. But no, she insisted. Then she repeated the line about us seeing how she’s suffering, “so you can back me up when I say I don’t want to be here anymore.”
So I agreed to meet her at her nursing home for lunch.
After I got off the phone, an idea hit me:
WHAT IF WE BRING GRANDMA TAKEOUT?
I called the nursing home, asked if it was ok to bring outside food to their common areas, they said sure, I looked up restaurants nearby, and found a Mediterranean place with a veggie option for my wife, and got my wife on board with the idea. Then I called grandma back.
“Hey grandma, so I was thinking, what if we bring you some takeout? You like Greek food, right? There’s this Greek place near you that’s supposed to be good....”
Visions of delicious kebabs and schwarma danced through my mind, hoping that my grandma would be excited at the thought of a nice gyro or something.
“No no no, you come here, that way you can be served like a lady and a gentleman and I can treat you.”
My grandma is a stickler about always picking up the tab. When she was younger and I would take her out to dinner, roughly mid-way between the salads and the entrees, she would make a big show of saying to the server,
“I GET THE CHECK.”
It’s like, ok grandma, we’re just eating our salads, the check’s not for a while yet, but no, she had to make it clear that she was paying.
My grandma, being as she has dementia and whatnot, has her money controlled by my mom. The only way for her to pick up the tab is for us to eat the nursing home food. So she refused to let me bring her takeout.
No kebabs for me. No veggie combo platter for my wife. Goddamn nursing home food.