Just a few notes:
I lived with my grandma off and on for a good portion of my childhood. I spent many days at the Senior Center as a child. I learned to play canasta, bridge, rumicube, and dominos. I already had a knowledge of gin rummy, regular rummy, uno and skip-bo. I learned who were the best partners and who were sore losers. I ate meals with them. I listened to their wonderful stories. Out of all my cousins, I was the only one to go there almost everyday. I loved it. My husband calls me the youngest old person he has ever met. lol
Fast forward to this past February. My husband's 76 year old grandma (Granny) lost her twin sister (Aunt Jean) unexpectedly. They were the type of twins who did everything together. They didn't even have to call each other in the morning and they would still be dressed alike. They were together all of their lives. Aunt Jean died of a brain aneurism very quickly. Granny took the death hard, but better than anyone expected. She lives with my husband's mom, her daughter, right down the street from us. The doctor took away her keys right after her sister died. Granny has a hard time remembering things, so the doc said no more driving. My mother-in-law doesn't want Granny to be home by herself everyday because she is kind of fragile. So, Granny goes to the Senior Center every day. There is a van that comes and picks her up and takes her to the center and then drives her home again in the afternoon. The first week she went, my MIL went with her. Then she had to go back to work. I offered to go up there a couple of times a week to keep her company. Well, I wound up going everyday for the first three weeks. I felt an enormous amount of guilt if I didn't go. Granny didn't know anyone up there. She has never had to make friends before, because she has had a built in best friend for 76 years.
Here are some things I learned, as an adult, at the senior center.
1. The food is still the same. My palate has been refined though, cardboard chicken fried steak isn't going to cut it. But, they serve some of my favorite foods such as mixed vegetables, steamed cabbage, peas, spinach. All foods my husband and child hate so I don't fix. Yes, they needs lots of seasoning, but it warms my 9 year old soul. Those are comfort foods to me. Lunch is $1.50 for seniors and $4.00 for everyone else.
2. The seniors hoard milk. Every day milk is served with the meal. The seniors will roll them up in napkins and stick them in their purses or bags. Same thing with the little butter packages too. I am sure some of these do not drink or use the milk and have several cartons at home in their fridge that is expired.
3. Cliques still happen. They have a few more wrinkles, but there are still mean girls, social butterflies, and guys talking about guy stuff. The first day I walked in, I was scared of sitting at the wrong table and having someone be mean to me (I got over it quickly).
4. The seniors like schedule. They get really upset if something happens a few minutes early or late.
5. They don't care about being politically correct. They cuss while playing cards and dominos. They are hilarious to listen to. They will tell you exactly what is on their mind whether it is appropriate conversation or not.
6. These people have some wonderful wonderful stories. I love just listening to them. Last week we were at a table with a gentleman who was 89. He spent many years in the Navy and was off the coast of Japan during WWII. He was telling me that his mom lived to be 96 and has an uncle that is 107 and still living. He also brought a tiny vial of chocolate to make his milk, chocolate milk. I love hearing about time in the service and stories about when they were children. These people have experienced so much.
7. They cheat at dominos. I mean like really cheat. Granny is really the only one I can vouch for on this. She will peek at several while picking her dominos. If she doesn't like them, she will just move on to the next one. She will try to hide dominos for the next hand by putting them under her arm. Today she simply just put the double blank back because she didn't want to be caught with it. She is obsessed with winning, but the more she cheats, the more I win. The more I win, the more she cheats. I find it funny at times, but then some days its just really annoying.
Now I need help. As much as I would love to spend my days up there playing games all day; my house is a mess, my laundry is piled up, my friendships are suffering and my stuff has taken the back burner. The thing is Granny will not make friends. She has become to dependent on me. I was thinking that I could slowly integrate her in to the place and maybe help her make some friends. Granny likes to play dominos, but she only likes to play one game...chicken feet. She refuses to play any other game. There are several different games going on during the day. There are ladies that play canasta, regular dominos and train dominos. She only wants people to play at her game. She never wants to just sit there and talk to other people either. Today, she got very upset that other people came and sat at her table. She wanted to move. I told her that other people were okay. It would be good for her to talk to other people. I have not been able to be there a couple of times and my MIL says that she just goes to the exercise room and exercises until lunch time. I want to be able to just go up there once or twice a week on my terms. My question is: How do I help her make friends and wean her off of me? How do I get her to try new things? I love Granny and I know my husband's family is grateful that I go up there to keep her company, but I can't keep going up there every day. Also, how do I get rid of the guilt for not going up there every day?
On the brighter side, the older people have really accepted me. I have made some friends up there. When I walk in there I get a very warm welcome. I also am helping them out by finding out information on stuff (mainly because I am the only one up there with a smart phone that has internet).
I guess I have rambled on enough. I leave you with a few pictures.
St. Patricks Day meal. - yum!
One of Granny's friends that she has known a long time. They come when they can, which is not often. He is 88 years old. He is the cutest funniest little man. I love him.
The directors treat me as one of their own. I got Easter goodies along with everyone else.
Granny and her machine. She is 4'10".