This picture of my Granny, Laura Ann Fuller, was taken when she was 103 years young, in 1988.
Rest In Peace Granny. I love you and miss you.
I believe that my caregiving role began at birth. When I was born in 1958, my paternal grandmother lived with my parents. I had three siblings, a half sister 12 years older than me, a brother 6 years older than me and a sister only 2 years older than me. My dad worked in a local paper factory and my mom was a homemaker/caregiver. In that year my granny, as we called her, was 73 years old. My granny had been in a car accident years prior and because of her injuries had really bad arthiritis in her legs. I can vividly remember Christmas, when I was 4 years old, my Granny got a shiny aluminum walker from Santa Claus. That was the greatest present ever that year, we could turn flips on it and everything. Granny loved to sew, she made clothes for my sisters and I, she made pillows, quilts, potholders and just about everything else you could imagine. Her favorite place to sit was in her bedroom window, watching the world outside. As the years progressed and as Granny got older, we did more and more for her. By the time I was probably 14 I was helping Granny to bathe, fixing her food and staying home with her when my parents had to do something. About that time, my Granny could no longer use the walker, with arthiritis in her fingers and legs, she just wasn't strong enough to stand and hold herself up. She crawled all over the place, she wouldn't let us help her. She was one tough cookie. Every summer my dad planned a family camping trip, we would have a caravan of cars going, sometimes there were 25 of us, and my Granny was always included. My dad and my uncles would take turns carrying her on our hikes, they would take her and sit her on the river banks so she could fish and she slept outside like all the rest of us. At home, she still did the dishes daily, and got herself dressed. This went on for a couple of years. By this time, all my siblings had moved out and I was the only one home. My responsibilities grew and I began spending lots more time with my Granny because my mom was going and helping to take care of her mom who lived only a couple of miles from us. My job had went from helping her bathe, to bathing her, getting her dressed, changing her bed, cooking her food and helping her eat. It was part of life. In January of 1985 we celebrated my Granny's 100th birthday party with a big family celebration. We rented a hall, had live music, food and a whole lot of fun. My Granny's sister, Lillie, was 10years younger than her, their birthdays were only a couple of days apart and we celebrated both at that party. I continued helping to care for my granny at home for two more years. When she was 102 she got the flu really bad, had to be hospitalized and at that point had to go to a convalescent home. Her mind was strong but her body was weak. I was working full time and my mom couldn't care for her alone. At that time our life changed just a little. My dad was retired, he and my mom would go out to breakfast in the morning then to the convalescent home to feed Granny lunch. When I got out of work, I would go and feed her dinner. She was still in her "right" mind, and she so looked forward to seeing us. Granny used to wheel herself to the front door of the home and wait because she knew we would be there. In the two years she lived there I was there everyday, sometimes twice a day. I would not trade those days for anything. I became friends with a few of the elderly ladies, one who I got very attached to. She had a spine injury and her body was badly deformed but she had the brightest smile and a heart of gold. I would feed her on one side of me and my Granny on the other. I would push both ladies out on the patio and we would sit outside and look at the pretty flowers, listen to the birds chirp and just enjoy each others company. Somedays, when it was nice out, I would push my granny for a walk, one day we walked a good 4 miles. It makes me sad to think about it now. It's been 20 years that she has been gone and I can feel her with me now. My Granny lived to be 104 years YOUNG. She was the backbone of our family. She is the reason I am who I am today. My granny taught me to be kind, to be patient, to love the elderly, just by being her. This was only the beginning of my caregiving journey. The story continues. Please come back.