In two days it's my grandfather's funeral. He passed away in early January, but as everything was in lockdown, we decided his funeral would be celebrated the next weekend after his birthday, on June 26. At the beginning of this adventure I thought it would be nice to stay until his funeral, but when I saw how difficult things actually were, I wanted out as soon as possible.
It turned out I had no choice but to stay until his funeral. We ran into many problems executing his will, and it turns out my presence here was necessary in order to keep my grandmother from borrowing unreasonable amounts of money paying for private care. She will get her money from the will shortly after the funeral.
To me it feels like the way it was intended to be. As if my grandfather had placed one of his descendants, probably the closest in personality to himself, to take care of his wife. I sometimes find myself thinking that nobody really understands what I've been through except John. I've come to learn to appreciate my grandmother, the lightness and the darkness she has, and I've learned to love her despite everything. I also know that what I've done will pass to her completely unappreciated, perhaps even resented, and I'm fine with that.
I've come to a strange realization in recent weeks: I'm currently just as happy as I was back home. When I gauge my mood, I feel just fine. This is despite having only around 45 minutes of personal time for myself per day. The list of privations that I endure would be endless if I look at it objectively, but I don't really think about it anymore, I've satisfied myself knowing this was my mission, and that I'm about to complete what was assigned to me.
The most valuable treasure that I'll take when I leave is being able to completely detach from the other person's drama. It's an endless barrage of crisis. Yesterday a lady came in to give my grandmother a haircut and remove her facial hair. My grandmother was telling her how to do her job, saying she was doing everything wrong, scolding her for getting hairs on the floor. This was a lady who had experience as a caregiver for decades, and now that she was retired, took on hairdressing for seniors. My grandmother broke her down to the point of exasperation: "I'll curl your hair only if you stop telling me that I'm doing everything wrong, I'm a professional!"--"Then leave now!", my grandmother growled back. She started packing up.
I approached the situation and asked "is there anything I can do to help?", the lady said "I'm sorry, we are done here, I can't do my job like this". My grandmother growled again. "It's ok, my grandmother can curl her own hair, thank you for coming". When my grandmother had gone back into her room, I whispered to the hairdresser "imagine what it's like living with her", she seemed surprised at my offer of complicity and said "I don't know how you do it"--"Neither do I, and it's been six months now". After being paid, the lady left hurriedly, I smiled with my eyes as the masks covered our mouths, assuring her it was OK.
My grandmother complained all day about the lady. I remained present with her complaints, neither attempting to extinguish the flames of her anger, nor fanning them to greater heights, like a therapist who knows his client has to vent. It comes through me without any damage or involvement, I let things be.
Some days ago my grandmother complained she had a dark spot on her nose. When I looked closely, I saw it was a very large blackhead. I made the mistake of telling her I could squeeze it out, and she immediately accepted. I took my fingers to her nose and the skin peeled off without anything except a bit of blood coming out. "There's a little bit of blood", I told her, "but it'll just take a second try". She freaked out and asked for a mirror. I showed it to her. She freaked out again "what have you done! it looks horrible!", I assured her we were almost done "no way you're touching my face again!".
Then, she'd recriminate me several times per day "look at what you did to me!", I simply apologize. It's not about who is right and who is wrong, and it's also never about you, it's about how you make her feel. And underneath all human relations lies this truth that Maya Angelou once said "People do not remember what you said, people remember how you made them feel". I'd extend it to actions. If you trip on her walker and this irritates her, you apologize not for tripping on the walker, but for irritating her.
I will write again after we've gone through the funeral. All of my uncles and aunts are coming, including my father. My brother, who lives in Toronto, will come too. My grandmother's "nieces" who have been accomplices in this adventure will come too. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.
At the start of this text I wrote that I am just as happy as I was back home, but I didn't add something important: I've noticed that when something small but positive happens in my life, it makes me unreasonably happy. Where a ride on the bike would have been meh back in Puebla, I now feel myself soaring to unreasonable freedom and delight. When someone pays me any positive attention, I beam with joy. I suppose this is just by experiencing the contrast of taking care of my grandmother against the world at large.
Now I feel like I'm wasting my time writing, I must go to the balcony and observe the trees and the people walking down the street, what a delight.