Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tales of Grandma -- Stubborn runs in the family: A post from the past

I thought this post was apt for this week. I wrote it in November of 2009, when Grandma moved from her apartment of 40 years to a smaller apartment down the road. Now almost 5 years later, after 2 years at an independent senior's lodge, Grandma is moving in with my Uncle Dean as she is requiring more and more care due to her failing memory. This post makes me both happy and sad - happy she was always such a tough old lady and sad that she has changed so much even in the last few years. As Gram says "It is a terrible thing to get old."


Pic by my sister, Ky via Flickr
This weekend, Lyn and I will converge at Grandma's place.  It has been a busy month for Grandma and we're going to visit in order to do a quick check on how things are going.

Not only did Grandma get a new dog this last month, she also moved from her home of over 40 years.

Grandma lives on the common grounds that is owned by our church.  It started as an orphanage and bible school and years later exists as a meeting place for the "universal church"(though as far as I know only people from Earth attend) a few times a year.  My grandparents helped oversee the orphanage back in the day and my mother spent her entire youth there.

Grandma lived in a building that was once the orphanage and was later adapted to be a rooming house of sorts.  She and her family inhabited the entire top floor of the building that sat on the east end of the grounds.  For the last few years, the building has been empty but for Grandma and an occasional renter of the small apartment next to hers.  It has almost 20 of the steepest steps known to man and is a feat to climb even for the fittest person.  Grandma has been kept young by those stairs.

In the last few years, we've all realized Grandma would need a change soon.  She will be 90 in January and, even though she could still beat me for hardworking stamina, she is getting older.  She can still care for herself -- food, cleaning, bathing, etc -- but she's a little forgetful and she's a worrier.  We thought about moving her from one city to another (to be closer to immediate family) but this is a woman who's been wearing the same clothes for 30 years -- she doesn't do change well.

Grandma and her 4 sisters in 1976
The perfect solution presented itself awhile ago.  A small apartment on the same grounds opened up.  It is in the same building as two of her dearest friends and is above her nephew and his wife who do more to take care of her than time or patience would allow.  Grandma has worked towards this slowly.  One day, the idea of moving is excellent.  The next?  Not so much.

A week or so ago, none of the family could get a hold of Grandma.  Days went by and she was no where to be found.  Calls between siblings went back and forth until Ky got Grandma on the phone.  She wasn't dead and being feasted on by "the little black dog" as we had feared.  She had moved.

Grandma got it into her head she was going to move to the apartment and so she did.

By herself.

She packed up all her clothes into her suitcases and walked them down from one end of the grounds to the other.  She unpacked them there and returned for another load.  Then she loaded up dishes and books into boxes.  She carried those boxes down the flight of The Stairs of Death.  And then, she loaded those boxes into her wheelbarrow.

Her wheelbarrow.

My almost 90 year old grandmother transported all her own items down to her new apartment in a wheelbarrow.  None of us had any idea she was moving.

Grandma 001
Grandma with Monty (left) and Vicki (right)
I talked to Grandma as she was cleaning out her old refrigerator.  She was standing on a chair, using a butter knife to defrost the freezer.  She chatted amicably about washing her windows before she moved out for good and contemplated how she would wash the outsides of them.  After I made her promise not to hang herself out the window, she casually mentioned that she wondered how to get the rocking chair downstairs.

I called my uncle who lives just over an hour away and let him know.  He went down that weekend and helped her move the rest.  When he was done, she burst into tears and said "Can we move it all back?"

I'm going up this weekend to make sure she didn't do that herself too.


  1. What a tender and sweet post about your beautiful grandma. I can't believe a few years ago, at 90, your grandma moved herself from one house to an apartment using a wheelbarrow to carry her things. May she continue to create wonderful memories for all, with her next move.

    1. Thank you, Amy. She is a wonderful woman and I love being able to share her escapades with everyone!


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