Another thing that Grandpa can no longer do with us is share family dinners. It used to be that Grandpa would come late afternoons for supper, arriving about an hour before the boys got home from school. Now, come 4:00–4:30, if he has not returned to his apartment, he starts looking for his car which he hasn’t had in years. He forgets he is no longer in Boston. He becomes increasingly restless and disoriented.
So instead of dinner, Grandpa now comes late morning, and stays for lunch. I do the day’s cooking while he is with us. Grandpa used to love to cook, and he likes to see me cook now. Cooking while we visit allows me to multitask. Multi-tasking means preserving at least some of the day for things other than Grandpa.
Our lovely, gentle dog walker Abel now joins us for lunch. Abel spends time with Grandpa while I cook, and our main Grandpa caretaker enjoys a break. For safety, Grandpa now needs constant supervision. Abel is so patient and kind as they talk. Abel never tires of discussing Grandpa’s civil engineering textbooks that we keep on our coffee table just for this purpose. After studying the textbooks’ diagrams and illustrations for a bit, Abel and Grandpa always read Grandpa’s biographical blurb at the front. This blurb highlights Grandpa’s distinguished career as academic and scholar. Each day, Abel and Grandpa read it, and Grandpa uses this as a framework to tell Abel about different aspects of his life.
Most of what Grandpa says is highly repetitive, but every now and then Abel asks a different question, or the same question in a different way, and I learn another little nugget about Grandpa which I never knew. Today, for instance, he told Abel that he regretted not continuing chemical engineering instead of switching to civil as a graduate student. At a time when Grandpa is slowly being erased, to learn something new about him is a surprise and a gift.
Originally published at Landslide.