Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I usually stop to visit my 91- and 93-year-old parents for a while every day. Sometimes I leave uplifted because they’re bright and ‘with it.’ Other days I leave a little confused by their logic.

Grandma: They were training in a new girl [a certified nursing assistant] today.

Me: Really?

Grandma: I can tell she’s not going to be a good one.

Me: And how can you tell that when it’s just her first day?

Grandma: She stood with her arms crossed.

Me: Her arms crossed?

Grandma: She was supposed to be watching the other girl, and the new one just stood with her arms crossed.

Me: Well, I suppose she was told to just observe the first day.

Grandma: The good ones can’t help it. They just pitch right in and work. They don’t cross their arms.

Me: I hope you give the new girl a chance.

Grandma: Oh, sure. But she won’t be a good one. She crossed her arms.

Grandpa: Whose alarms?

Me: No, arms—not alarms. Arms. The new girl—Grandma said she just crossed her arms.

Grandpa: The new girl has arms?

Grandma: Remember at dinner? She just stood there and crossed her arms. And didn’t smile. She won’t be a good one.

Me: Maybe you could at least give her a chance? Maybe she was very nervous and serious her first day on the job.

Grandma: We had to work hard when we were kids. I can tell which girls had to work hard at home when they were growing up because they know how to work when they come here [to the assisted living].

Me (trying to change the subject): So what were you expected to do when you were kids?

Grandpa: Who has a kid?

Me: No, when you were a kid. What work were you expected to do when you were a kid?

Grandpa: I was tall and skinny—six feet tall when I was 13 years old.

Grandma (to Grandpa): I remember when you grew so fast at that age that they couldn’t keep up to you with pants. During Norwegian School one spring, your father told my mother that you grew out of a pair of pants every week.

Grandpa: I grew fast.

They both stopped to think about that awhile. Finally, my mother spoke.

: Do you remember when Irving jumped twenty feet off the side of the silo because he thought the silo was falling down?

Grandpa (laughing): He was putting up pipe on the side of the silo during silo-filling. It was a windy day. He looked up and saw the clouds moving by the top of the silo and he thought the silo was tipping over—so he jumped.

Grandma: Uffdah, he didn’t realize it was the clouds moving instead of the silo.

They both laughed.

Me: Was he hurt?

Grandpa: I don’t remember that he was hurt.

Grandma: Just his pride. Everybody teased him about that—“The silo is falling, Irving!” (She laughed.)


Grandma: We worked when we were kids. I helped my aunt feed the men during threshing. We didn’t cross our arms. The new girl won’t be a good one because she crossed her arms.

I think that’s where I came in.


Anonymous said...

I shouldn't comment but I am just sitting here laughing until I am almost crying. And so goes another day at Diamond Willow! Grandma Nettie

Anonymous said...

Laughter is good therapy!! ejb

Dana @ Bungalow'56 said...

Over the past several years I have been helping to care for my 91 yr old grandma. My mom is an only child and has had some health issues. So these posts hit so close to home, my husband and I had a good laugh. this post really hit a funny bone for us.

Dana @ Bungalow'56 said...

Just wanted to let you know I've linked to this post today. Hope others enjoy it as much as we did.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I'm a visitor coming via Dana' link.
How hilarious - and you re-tell the conversation so well!
Mental note - do NOT stand around with crossed arms in an "old folks" home........


Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points said...

Found you through Bungalow'56.

I've been a therapist for older adults for more than 15 years. I love them so dearly. And I've had this EXACT conversation more times than I can count.

That's fantastic!

2to4aday said...

Many of us "sandwich generation" people feel like we're alone in our little world of dealing with aging parents. But as soon as we speak out a little, we find that the room is filled with people in the same situation. It's certainly a circle of life as our aging parents become more dependent. It's important to see the humor in this stage because it would be too painful if we didn't.

Thanks to all of you for your comments!

Anonymous said...

Amen to that Sister--Grandma Nettie

Sue said...

Ahhh..I just wish my 91 year old father-in-law was that aware still. :-) He just sits in his chair now and we (really my husband does it all) take care of him.
Enjoy your precious parents..they are darling. :-)
One thing i am amazed at as we become care givers is how many peple do this for their parents..it is heart warming :-)

Anonymous said...

And now looking back at this blog months later. the girl that just crossed her arms is in CHARGE of their side of the building. Hmmm. . . guess sometimes first impressions aren't everything. And Nancy is loved by all-----Granmdma Nettie