Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Double Whammy

Two weeks ago, my grandmother died at age 93. I've discussed her in passing, probably because the grandma I knew growing up wasn't the same woman she had been since 2000 or 2001. She battled depression for a fair amount of her adult life, and that segued into dementia in her later years; I watched firsthand her gradual decline from forgetfulness to erratic behavior to childlike daffiness to ambivalent confusion. It would be harsh to say that the time and effort it took to care for her was a burden; in a lot of ways, it was a tag-team obstacle course with a sometimes cooperative opponent. My mother was convinced that in spite of her mental condition Grandma would live to be 100; even before she started having colon and respiratory issues in mid-February, I was skeptical.

On that note, earlier this week my mother had brain surgery. Two days later, the previous procedure apparently ruptured her aortic aneurysm, which forced a second surgery. The procedures were performed at Rush Medical Center downtown; both the neurosurgeon and cardiologist were experts in their particular fields, performing meticulous acts of surgical derring-do that would have been unheard of 25 years ago. Other preexisting medical conditions have turned a two-night visit into a one-week-plus stint in the ICU, but she should be moving into a regular room sooner than later. I'll keep you all posted.

With my grandmother no longer distracting us, and my mother temporarily out of the picture, my sister finally started cleaning out my father's belongings. I frequently referred to him, both alive and dead, as a pack rat. Upon spending an hour in our basement rummaging through his old vacation tote bag and some plastic tubs, it was evident that he was a borderline hoarder. The bright green tote bag revealed years of old ketchup packets, soap bars, and fast food napkins; a fair percentage of the contents included faded receipts from long-ago restaurant visits and more than a few airline tags and tickets. Thank goodness nothing had leaked, since I assumed my mother might want to reuse this cherished luggage.


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