I feel a little bad for being so hard on my grandfather in yesterday’s post — especially since earlier in the day he’d expressed his appreciation for my being around for him, even though he gives me a lot of bullshit (his words). It’s important I make clear here that I love my grandfather. I do. In some ways, we’re probably too alike, and being around him has given me reason to question some of my own perspectives on living. But that doesn’t wash away everything. Like when he tells me or my mom that he wishes we were in his place, so we’d know what it felt like.
He said that to me for the first time a few weeks ago. He was refusing — like a petulant child — to walk the ten steps from his place on the loveseat to eat at the kitchen table. He has a penchant for ruining carpets by spilling and/or feeding the dogs food and drink. I told him it was only a short walk and that he knew the rules about eating on the carpet. Then he pulled out the, “I wish you felt like I did, so you’d know.”
“That’s really nice of you,” I replied. Who wishes that kind of thing on anyone, much less his or her family and caregivers?
“Well, you’re not very nice to me.”
I stood up. My little sister was standing in the kitchen finishing making his lunch.
“We’re not nice to you? Does someone make and bring you food?”
He started to say something along the lines of it being hard, but I cut him off.
“Does someone make and bring you food?”
“That’s right, they do,” I said. “This can be a lot harder,” I said. He could be making his own food and taking it at the kitchen table. I repeated it for him, “This can be much more difficult.”
He still refused to go to the kitchen table. My sister put it in the microwave for him to warm up later. Would you believe me if I told you his food sat in the microwave for five hours until my mom got home? ‘Cause it did.
There are many times like that. But there are also nice days, and relatively nice days. Today was fine, for example. We drove the hour to Temple to the VA Medical Center, stopping on the way so we could both take pisses (damn coffee) and getting there with plenty of time. He didn’t complain much. We lamented the lack of car chargers for our phones and Apple’s refusal to join the rest of civilization with a micro-USB charger. (The day would have been even better if he’d walked around the VA instead of having me push him in his wheelchair, but we did have a victory in him walking from the car to the bathroom and back at the gas station.)
So while I have plenty of things — adventures, in a way — to complain about with him or instances with which to gross everyone out, we do have a good relationship. Sometimes. Sometimes we have a very contentious relationship. Getting him to improve takes a carrot and a stick. And the stick can’t always be connected to the carrot. Every once in a while, you have to whack him with the stick to spur him toward the carrot.