Having WeeBots Means You Have…

The thing about having young kids is that it usually means you’ve got old parents. And older grandparents. If you still have them at all.

The interesting thing about blogging several times a week about a certain topic is that it’s like a job: you concentrate on your subject and you leave the rest behind. But the other interesting thing about blogging is that it’s not quite that simple. Because you generally do it in your kitchen, which is in the middle of your home, it sometimes demands  some asides.

The beauty of being so crazily preoccupied with wiping poop from every surface, keeping weeBots from bicycling into the street when they are not even riding real bicycles, and facing down a constant pile of this morning’s dishes and yesterday’s Spiderman underpants is that I don’t have time to think about much else–like the grandmother I love, who lives in Florida, in a facility that we have all entrusted to her care, for x thousands of dollars of her savings a month. A place in which, as of three weeks ago, she has been judged too old for independent apartment living, and too young for the “healthcare facility,” which is the last step on the staircase to heaven. But there is no room in the in-between place, although one assumed that of course there would be, when it came to that, and so she has been placed in the healthcare facility. There is talk about moving her to the in-between place once an opening becomes available, but it is general knowledge that people who go into the “healthcare facility” do not come out.

We are all worried.

My grandmother is ninety-five, and has good days and bad, but the last time I spoke with her, in December, she was the woman I have always remembered: intelligent, funny, interested, and opinionated.

For forty years, I have lived over two thousand miles from her. She met Mbot once, when he was five weeks old. She has never met Gbot. I keep thinking of bringing the Bots to Florida; of getting on two planes and staying two nights and leaving a memory of ruckus and rampage, but the airfares are prohibitively high, and the flights very long. And the bots have been very small. I have not been up to it.

But neither am I up for the scenario of my grandmother leaving this place without meeting Gbot, feeling his squirming body wriggle from hers. I wonder what that would actually accomplish, who I would really be doing it for. Mbot would remember her, maybe. Gbot would not. But she would know, now and then, that she had held her youngest great-grandchild. 

My mother and I were talking today about the enormous expense my grandparents had put into the advanced-care facility. “And to think that they were so frugal their entire lives,” said my mother of her parents-in-law. All that money going to this facility that, we observed wryly, seemed to be failing her now. “Grandpa and Grandma’s idea of splurging was buying the Happy Endings sundae at Friendly’s,” my mother remembered, we laughed.

“And to think that x thousand dollars a month can’t even really buy you a happy ending,” I said.

We laughed again. Laughter’s powerful because it signals that you share a reality with the person you’re talking with. It make the world not quite such a lonely place.

The Happy Endings sundaes were too small to share. Even though my grandmother never wanted to order one of her own–she would always “just have a bite” of my grandfather’s. We all laughed at that, too, because we knew that whoever shares a sundae with grandma has to beware. We all want way more than just one bite of what’s in front of us.


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