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Softly Stolen Under Our Blanket Skies

Posted on April 29th, 2007

Whenever I have said that I don’t understand Chinese, I have lied. The truth is that I do understand some (not a whole lot), and I am able to speak some, too (and by some, I include basic counting and asking for the washroom and ordering dim sum). But today, I wish that I did not understand a word of it.

Today, I asked to visit my grandma, who recently moved into an old age home (or long term care facility or whatever they want to call it to make it sound less horrible). I was told that there were a lot of good things about her being there and, for the most part, I believe that they are true. After all, she is getting fed a wide variety of food (and properly minced for her), has access to medical and support staff at all times, and is able to associate with a bunch of other people (which is something she hasn’t done in years and years). Plus, my dad is now able to get a good night’s sleep.

Today, I saw what it was like for her. People in wheelchairs were everywhere; some were able to wheel themselves around while many had to get the staff and volunteers to move them. Lots of them could not feed themselves. Most of them did not look very happy, nor were they talkative. Despite the neutral colours and cheery pictures, the place felt awfully glum. It hurt to know that my grandma was there and not at home.

Today, I heard her say some of the scariest things I have ever heard in my life. “Nobody wants grandma.” “I’m not going to live very long.” “I want to die.” My heart shattered. I fought back tears. And I hoped to God that all of that was her Alzheimer’s talking.

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