After work today I did some grocery shopping at Trader Joe's and Target, headed home, grabbed some food, and went to visit my Gpa. He's living in the nursing home around the corner from me. and we'd been working out a plan to attach some bookends to his bedside table.
My Gpa has been in the nursing home for about 5 years now - I remember it happened right around my birthday in 2002 - as the Angels were in the World Series. The year before I'd transferred to Cal State Long Beach and moved in with my grandparents. They lived closer to the school, they had the space, and it made it so I didn't have to pay rent. Gpa had been losing his eyesight for years and had recently begun loosing the use of his right side. We didn't know what was causing it until he had to go to the hospital.
I'd been taking a bath in the front bathroom and heard a commotion in the living room. When I came out, wrapped in just my towel, the living room was filled with firefighters and paramedics. Gpa had been complaining that he felt a great pressure on his chest and felt like he couldn't breathe - then he'd passed out. Gma called 911.
They took some x-rays and discovered that his C1 and C2 vertebrae (those are the two closest to his skull) had been slowly breaking and pinching off his spinal cord. He wound up having a very special surgery to stabilize his spine, and has since been confined to his bed.
In the time since, he has amazingly been regaining his strength when we were sure he would not. For a long time he could not sit up without becoming dizzy and lightheaded and eventually fainting. Now he can sit up for periods of time, and has become quite accustomed to his surroundings.
His family comes by or calls him on his cell phone fairly regularly. (He has a Firefly and a hands free kit that has become his lifeline to his loved ones). He cannot see, so he remembers everything by touch and orientation. He wanted to make a modification to his bedside table and asked me to bring by some velcro.
I'd gone to the new Target in Tustin on my way home from work. It's probably the largest Target I'd ever been to - and I told him all about it. I mentioned that even though it was already after 7:30pm, I'd really come to him right after getting home. I mentioned a couple times that I had gone shopping and only stopped at home long enough to put away the perishables and grab some food to bring with me.
Later in the conversation he asked me why it took me so long to get home from work. In fact, he asked twice during our conversation... after I'd already told him.
This is not like my Gpa. He remembers everything. This is a man that can do square roots of just about any number in his head - to decimal places. A man that will take a 20-somthing letter word, and make other words out of the letters in that word, and remember all 200-something letter words he's already made with it. He does not forget things.
He seems healthy, but I wonder if this is a sign of things to come...