My mother-in-law is not doing well; she was admitted to the hospital on the 23rd. She’s about 2 ½ hours away from us, so getting there regularly is difficult. We had originally planned to take the whole family to see her on the 26th, but when we found out she would be in the hospital, we decided that the whole family would be too much. Our 16-year-old daughter did want to go as did our adult niece and nephew. We arrived at the hospital to find “Grandma” sedated and, though stable, not doing well. This really shook up our daughter and niece. They both had tears throughout the visit as we took turns being in the hospital room and waiting in the family waiting room.
When I first went in my mother-in-law’s room, I held her hand and commented on her long finger nails. Mine don’t grow well and I’ve had acrylic nails for the past 15 years. My mother-in-law slowly turned her head to me and, quietly and with difficulty, asked if I’d cut them for her. I carry nail clippers and a file in my purse, so my husband went to retrieve it from the waiting room. I clipped her nails, talked with her and, once in awhile, she’d respond. My daughter and niece also tried to talk with her through their tears. I felt old. Not in a creaky old-age sort of way, but in an “I’ve lived a few years; I’ve had experiences” sort of way. When my dad died, I was twenty-eight and I was totally distraught. I remember sobbing in my aunt’s arms and asking her how she managed to maintain her composure so well. She said to me, “Honey, as you get older, you just figure out how to handle these things better.” Well, here I am – older. There are both positives and negatives about growing older and, after yesterday, I believe that the ability to better handle life’s traumas is definitely a positive. It’s not a matter of being unfeeling or not caring; it’s simply a matter of learning, in some small way, to do what has to be done; to take the bumps in stride.