Monday, May 22, 2023

100th Celebration + More About My Grandma

We had a great time celebrating my grandma’s 100th birthday! We got to my parents around lunchtime on Friday. It was a cool, windy day so not a good lake day (my parents live on a lake). By the end of the day it had warmed up enough that it was nice out back. Phil and I have an ongoing disagreement about what is considered the front and back of my parents lake home. For me and my family, the ‘front’ of the house is the part that faces the lake; the ‘back’ faces the road. 

Playing with nana’s new bubble toys!

The 6 of us went out for an anniversary dinner at one of our favorite spots in the town my parents live near - Battle Lake. The boys did well all in all. 

Saturday was all about celebrating my grandma! I went to the church where her party was in the morning to help get the space set up/help with food prep. I was glad I could get a photo with my grandma before people arrived! 

My beautiful grandma and me

My grandma and her 3 living children. My dad Paul (my son’s namesake), the eldest, is on the left. She had 4 children but my aunt Betty died from cancer nearly 10 years ago. 

Phil stayed back at the house with the boys and brought them after Will’s nap. They were confused by the ‘party’. Most of the birthdays they’ve attended have been at parks. Luckily there was a ‘wiggle room’ at this church with lots of toys so they hung out there. I am glad I had an hour at the party to mingle before they arrived. 

They did enjoy the birthday desserts - cake and cupcakes!

After the party, my grandma headed back to her home at an assisted living center (she was exhausted!) and we had a little after party at a restaurant. It was nice to get some extra time with extended family. 

We left Sunday morning so we could get home for Will’s nap and to tackle laundry, groceries, etc. It was a very short trip - less than 48 hours - but it was worth it to be there for my grandma’s celebration. 

In my last post, some of you asked some questions about my grandma, so here are the answers, plus a couple I added! 

Have I observed anything that explains her longevity?

I think it mostly comes down to genetics. Although I will say she has always been careful about sun exposure which I think is a large part of why she looks so amazing! It was not ‘in fashion’ to be tan when she was growing up like it was for my generation. She also did a lot of walking for exercise. She would walk every day with a friend. Lastly, she loved puzzles and was an avid scrabble player so she kept her mind active. I’ve only beat her at scrabble once in my life!!

Does she live independently?

She lived independently with my grandfather until he passed away in 2009. The next year she moved into an apartment but was incredibly lonely so she moved into assisted living after a year in that apartment and has been there for the last 10+ years. Initially she said she was not interested in the social events but she quickly became the social butterfly of the community. Her favorite activity is Wii bowling. 

Is she in good health?

Overall I would say she is in good health, all things considered. She has never had a joint replacement and has only started to complain about joint pain in the last several years which is impressive! She has had high cholesterol and blood pressure for most of her life but it’s controlled by medications. 

Her mind is incredibly sharp. Last summer when we visited her, she asked Phil about the recent increase in interest rates and how it was impacting our work. Phil could not believe she still pays attention to things like interest rates! What is most impressive to me is how she has adapted to today’s technology. She’s active on Facebook and I introduced her to wordle last year - she plays every day. She also emails which is the primary way I keep in touch with her. 

Her biggest issue is that she has horrible macular degeneration. She’s nearly blind as a result and can no longer do many of her favorite things like read, crochet or work on crossword puzzles. Even watching tv is hard but that doesn’t prevent her from watching college and professional football. She is a HUGE Vikings fan and follows the team very closely. We kept hoping the Vikings would make it to the superbowl again in her lifetime but it seems unlikely. 

How does she feel about turning 100?

When we saw her around her birthday last year, she told us she did not aspire to turn 100. I think she would be happy to peacefully pass away at this point. My grandpa died 14 years ago and while she has endured that loss with such grace, I know she misses him dearly. They had this magical marriage. I never saw them exchange a cross word and I spent A LOT of time with them. They traveled around the country in their motorhome and would memorize poetry together; then they would recite poems for the family. She said that every time she made a meal for my grandpa he would say, ‘Janet, that was so good!’ He’d say it even if she had prepared something simple and he genuinely meant it. 

Aside from losing her husband, she’s lost all of her and my grandpa’s siblings, lots of extended family and nearly all of her friends have died. She also lost my aunt to cancer 10 years ago. I don’t think any parent would want to outlive their children. I certainly don’t. 

To wish for her to continue to live would be selfish on my part. So my wish for her is that she peacefully passes. I will be sad, of course, but feel incredibly lucky that she got to meet Phil and saw me become a mom/met my boys. I think she’s squeezed everything she could out of life and had a meaningful impact on mine. She knows how much I adore her and how I treasure the memories we made so there’s nothing left unsaid - which is such a gift. 

Wow, what a heavy end to a post - but as I get older, I’m working on increasing my comfort level with the end of life, especially when it’s not untimely. 


Chelsea said...

What a lovely tribute to your grandma! I had the same reaction as others, "Wow, she looks great!".

Elisabeth said...

What a lovely tribute, Lisa, and what a special lady! It's such a privilege to have these seniors to look up to, learn from, and love. I treasure my parents and other friends in my life that are completely different stages. They have such wise advise and look at the world with a unique insight.

Both my grandfather's passed long before I was born, but my Mom's mother was just the sweetest grandmother anyone could hope for. My biggest regret is that my husband never met her; she would have ADORED him! He's so funny and my grandmother loved to laugh. Sometimes I just sit and daydream about her chuckling over some of his antics or when I watch my Mom laugh at his jokes, I can see glimpses of my grandmother reflected in her reaction.

What a joy both boys have been able to meet her and I'm so glad you were able to have this special family time. <3

Jeanie said...

Fabulous post, Lisa and a wonderful weekend. Wow -- I'm impressed. I looked at the pix -- she doesn't look a day over 86! (Whatever 86 looks like these days.) It sounds like she has lived well and right -- and has the bonus genetics to work with it. The weekend itself sounds wonderful -- time with family, gran, kids.

Oh, by the way -- you're right and Phil isn't. The front is the lake side. Just sayin'... (I think I finally have Rick trained!)

Jenny said...

Wow, this is incredible. Your grandma is an amazing person. She looks incredible (I didn't expect her to look that young!) and I loved hearing about the things she does to keep herself in good shape. That is a shame about the macular degeneration- that must really negatively affect the quality of her life. And, I guess anyone who lives that long has to endure losses. I loved the stories of her marriage. It's amazing that you were all able to be with her to celebrate this birthday- I'm sure she loved it.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Your grandmother sounds amazing, Lisa! And I think your wish that her passing, when it comes, is peaceful is such a loving wish to have for her. What a lovely relationship you have with her!

The party sounds so nice -- how fun that you and the kids and Phil got to celebrate with her in person. And thank you for sharing these tidbits about her! She seems like a really fun person.

Nicole said...

Wow, what an incredible woman! I loved reading every word of this, Lisa. What a wonderful life.
I saw that first photo and before I read the caption I thought "That can't be her grandma, she looks too young." But it IS your grandma! Wow, does she look healthy and vibrant. I can't even believe she is 100! Fabulous genetics, taking care of her skin, and walking - what an inspiration! *puts on shoes for a walk, slathers on sunscreen* Honestly, what a great post. Happy happy happy birthday!

San said...

What a lovely tribute to your grandma, Lisa. She really looks amazing and I am so glad you still have the opportunity to spend time with her (and email with her - wow! I love that she was not afraid to learn new technology at her age! I love skyping with my 92-year old surrogate grandma too. The options...!!)

I loved especially what you said at the end: "I’m working on increasing my comfort level with the end of life, especially when it’s not untimely." Such a good attitude!

coco said...

I love this post. Your grandma looks so healthy and wise. I love your last point of letting her go as it would be selfish otherwise. I met with a good friend of mine, her mom had several strokes already. Her current attitude when she complains about something is to do anything to make her mom feel better, more comfortbable, not necessarily to rush to the ER to safe her from the inevitable. That is not easy but I think it's our way to love them, and honor their path.

Anonymous said...

This tribute to grandma made me tear up - such a beautiful and true description of her. I agree - I have a hope she gets her wish to pass peacefully so she can be with Grandpa and Betty. She has lived a good life and this stage has to be very lonely for her.

I love that the boys were disappointed the venue didn’t have any swings or slides lol.

Mom of Children said...

A beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your grandma! How blessed you are to have a woman like that in your and your family's life!

Diane C. said...

What a lovely post about your grandmother! She has such a beautiful smile and she looks so happy to be celebrating with her family.
I feel like grandparents and children both remind me of my own mortality - this chain of new humans coming into the world as older humans depart, and here I am in the middle, sure to one day be an older human as well.
How lucky you are to have her in your life.

Sarah said...

My grandma died in her mid-90s, and she, too, was more than ready to pass peacefully, which is where Ben's grandma is as well-- totally get this. Your grandma looks AMAZING, and I am glad you had a good party :)

Stephany said...

I love this so much! I still can't believe how YOUNG your grandma looks at 100. Those are some great genes!

What a beautiful tribute and I'm glad you got to celebrate her last weekend. It must be terribly lonely to be her age, though, with so many people in her life having passed away. I think we can only hope our loved ones get to live such a long, happy life and pass away peacefully when they're ready!

Colleen said...

She looks great for 100! Your aunt looks a lot like you.
I agree with your hubby LOL. The back of the house faces the lake.

katielookingforward said...

So beautiful! My grandma is in her 90's as well and each time we are able to visit is a treasure. My grandma will email, but we mainly FaceTime which is so fun that she is willing to learn how to do it!

Anne said...

What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful grandmother. So, so glad you were able to celebrate her. It's also wonderful to hear about your close relationship with her - and your grandfather - throughout your life. I'm glad you treasure that - it's so rare! Celebrating her while she is here is one of the most loving things you can do, I think. :)