Since moving to São Paulo, I regularly visit my maternal grandmother who has taken up permanent residence in the city hospital. I ask if she’s okay, if she wants me to raise or lower the back of her bed, if she wants a tissue to blow her nose. I give her food and water. I sing Roberto Carlos, talk about life, praise her garish painted nails and generally do my best to distract her in any way I can. When I leave I her the nurse ask her,
“Who was here, Mrs. Sylvia?”
“No one”, she replies.
Every day is like that, I please my grandmother and she forgets me. The lack of memory is due to Alzheimers. For a while, my grandmother shared a room with another lady who has terminal cancer. She was lucid, talkative but primarily jealous of my grandmother. Why?
My grandmother has four daughters who take turns visiting the hospital. The lady with cancer had two sons who live in distant cities. When they visited, it would never be longer than 15 minuets, and they would spend that time complaining about the £4k the government spent on the room.
Today, visiting my grandmother was my usual chatty and cheerful self
“Hi Grandma, how’s it going? Did you eat the cake? I came to visit you!”
On the other bed, I remember the lady watching me. In one swift act, I turned my feet, switched my focus and asked her, “And what about yourself? How are you? Are you feeling better?”
She had no teeth, but still grinned, nodded and her eyes filled with tears. My actions were spontaneous and on the journey home I thanked myself for having a good heart and sharing affection.
So my wish of the day is to ask you to value the people around you and to not abandon the elderly. We will all get there one day. If I am old and in hospital, I hope to get a smile from you to.
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