Silver Bells, Silver Hair & Silver Linings

Where do I start?

2020 ended with a real bang for me. At first I thought it was a bad bang, but it ended up being the best bang ever, and helped me grow in ways I didn't know were possible in 2 of the shortest months of my life.

Mom called Monday night. She said Grampa called to let her know Gramma wasn't doing good. That she wasn't eating, mostly sleeping and hospice was coming in daily. She's had COPD and been on oxygen for several years but the signs were showing that her heart has to work too hard to keep her lungs functioning. Mom and I spent the next week visiting every single day, making sure she was comfortable and that Grampa had everything he needed and processing everything that was happening.

The following Sunday, everyone in my immediate family came over for Grampa's 82nd Birthday. We had a nice dinner and shared some old memories, while Gramma just lay in the bedroom, getting ready to go in peace.

The next day, I was helping Grampa get a few things together, calling the funeral chapel and the hospice chaplain, bringing her urn up from the basement, things like that. Right before I left that night, I looked at him and said, "Grampa, you look exhausted." He goes, "Yup, I think everything's just getting to me."

I didn't want to leave that night. There was something telling me to stay, but he assured me he would be fine, he was just going to go to bed early tonight.

I got home, sat down at the counter and just put my head in my hands. I was exhausted. My husband was making supper, he just wrapped his arms around me and held me. He told me to go lay on the couch until supper was ready and he'd bring me a glass of wine.

I was laying there for about 5 minutes when the phone rang. It was mom. "Grampa fell, the neighbor called 911 but he's refusing to go in because he doesn't want to leave Gramma."

WHAT.

So I jump up, crying, go to frantically grab my jacket and put my boots on and Andy goes, "Just wait. You should call him."

So I called him.

"Hello??"

"Grampa, are you ok"

He chuckles, "Oh I'm fine, my walker got caught on the bathroom threshold and got away from me."

I told him I was coming there.

He said, "NO, don't come, I'm just going to bed." The calmness in his voice was so reassuring, so I accepted it and we hung up.

5 minutes later, the phone rings. It was Gramma and Grampa's neighbor. She goes, "Jenna? Your Grampa fell down, and the ambulance is on their way." I said, "Yes I know, I just talked to him. He said he's ok"

She goes, "No he fell AGAIN." WHAT.

Needless to say, we left supper on the table and made the 22 minute drive in about 12.5 minutes. As we pulled in, Grampa was being hauled out on the gurney. He was smiling and joking and said he was ok. They took him to the hospital and we waited.

About 2 hours later, he called saying he had broken 3 ribs, and that they were keeping him overnight to wait for the results of his Covid & pneumonia tests.

Andy and I went home, and Mom stayed.

The next morning I got there at about 8, and mom had just hung up with Grampa. He tested positive for Covid.

My. Heart. Sank.

Because if he's got it, then she's got it, and she's compromised, then I got it and Mom's got it and our whole family's got it and Gramma's over here, hanging on by a thread and WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE GOING TO DO?!?!?

So I just went into their bedroom, laid down with Gramma and let. it. all. out. I prayed for ease and comfort. I prayed for help. I prayed for grace and answers and healing.

Grampa called in the afternoon and said they would let him do an at-home treatment, and that he would be home the next day. I didn't know what that meant, but the next several days were CRAY ZAY.

So, they bring him home with the whole setup. IV drip, Ipad, phone, an entire work station of electronics and gadgets to get rid of the Covid. Plus, nurses came several times per day to help him, and he facetimed the Dr. several times a day, while Mom opened up all his blister packs. It was insane.

Meanwhile, Gramma's over here, all of a sudden, like "What the hell is going on out there? Who's out there? I'm hungry."

I AM NOT KIDDING YOU. She went from taking comfort meds every hour to getting up to go to the bathroom on her own to eating entire bowls of soup to talking smart to being grateful to looking at me like she's never looked at me before. She turned 80 that Sunday.

I cannot tell you what exactly happened in those couple days, but what I do know, is that it was the result of pure, honest, unconditional love.

My mother and I bonded harder than we ever have over those days. My grandmother and I bonded harder than we have ever bonded over those days. And the same for Grampa and I. Wherever love was needed, we put it. And the results were miraculous. I've learned more in two months than some people do in two lifetimes. About love, about family, about give and take, about healthcare and healthcare workers, and I'm a better human for it.

I went into December wondering if we were all going to make it out of the year alive. We did. And that was only the 293rd miracle I witnessed in the last two months of 2020.

A couple weeks ago, the Hospice Dr. came to see Gramma, and helped explain to her what the next couple months might look like. He was caring and compassionate, and explained things in a way we could all easily understand. She knows that she's not going to live forever, but she told me she had to make the most of what time she has left. And through all of this, that was the most beautiful lesson I could've possibly learned.


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