When I was in elementary, the coolest person I wanted to spend my time with was my grandpa Deano. Anything and everything we did together was the best, such as:
Sleep overs almost every weekend
Whatever I wanted for breakfast after said sleepovers- Eggo waffles, perfectly poached eggs, McDonald's pancakes, brand name sugar cereals we didn't have at home
Always having chocolate milk for lunch at HAFB
Driving home from school while standing up through the sunroof as though I was someone famous riding in a limo
Spotting the fire first when passing the North Salt Lake refineries and then being declared the "Eagle Eye"
An annual week swimming and sleeping at Circle J
New Years Eve parties
Lighting giant fires with his giant matches and shielding my face from the heat with old boxes
Visiting Grandma Edy's grave
Playing at the playground for hours and hours
Dressing up and taking pictures around the house
Going to Lagoon every summer
Those were some great times. Over time though, I moved onto junior high, high school, and college where it was no longer cool to hang out with old people, even if they were your grandparents. Requests for the Young Women to help residents at Highland Care Center were dreaded. So I became distant and felt myself simply avoid talking or spending time with Deano. But he was getting older too, losing his mobility, eyesight, memory, and many other characteristics that made him so awesome before. As horrible as this sounds, I felt like I didn't love him anymore.
Thankfully, my perspective has vastly changed.
While in Utah in August, my mom asked that K.C. and I drive down to visit Deano for a little bit. Understanding that this might be the last time I see him alive (even though we have been thinking this for almost 10 years now...he refuses to quit on us!), I willingly drove down to Garden Terrace preparing myself for the awkward situation I would soon be in.
However, that was the best visit I could have ever asked for.
Sitting in that wheelchair was the grandpa I had always remembered. He looked awesome! Instead of being very frail and thin, he looked robust and well fed. Instead of having messy hair, it was perfectly combed, although not in his traditional perm. Instead of having sores covering various parts of his body from falling around his house, his skin looked bright and refreshed!
When I asked about a photograph of a mountain in his room that he took, without a moments hesitation he perfectly recalled the location and event that brought him to that distant country. He told us about playing Yahtzee and how fun it had been, even though he said he needed to keep practicing. Showing off the progress he had made through physical therapy, he clapped his hands, yet no sound was created as he curved fingers prevents his palms from making contact with each other. I will never forget the way his eyes lit up and how happy he was when my mom took his hands in hers, turned them sideways, clapped them together, and a sound was produced. He was ecstatic and immediately asked her to do it again.
I seriously think those few minutes spent visiting with him were the most important we ever had together.
Leaving Garden Terrace and all the way home, I cried because my grandpa was back. I used to think senior citizens were simply old and in the way. Now, whenever I see someone else's grandparent I realize how wonderful they truly are. I didn't get to know three of my grandparents really well before they passed away, so now I find myself cherishing every memory I have of Deano.
So thank you nurses and caregivers. You have dedicated your life to helping my grandpa's life be better and through that service, you brought back my grandpa, and have reminded me of the love I have for him. From the bottom of my heart,
I love you Deano.