The Lord's Prayer 主の祈り

Loren, Grandma, and me at a restaurant in Paia on Loren's birthday.
(ローレン、おばあちゃん、私 ローレンの誕生日に訪れたパイアのあるレストランにて)

Finally, the last day to spend time with Grandma in Wisconsin has come.

Loren, Loren's mom, and I visited Grandma at the nursing home in the early morning. It was Grandma's first morning to have at a new place. Last night, I prayed in my bed that she would wake up with a fresh and bright feeling tomorrow morning.

When we first arrived at the nursing home, we could not find Grandma in her room. She was participating in a bingo game at the social room that was located in the middle of the nursing home. With about thirty other residents, Grandma was eagerly engaged in the game, raising her hand straight up to the ceiling, “Bingo! I got a bingo!” Loren and I quietly approached towards the room and hid ourselves behind pillars to make sure that she would not see us. (If she noticed us, we knew that she would come to us; we wanted her to finish the game.) Grandma kept raising her hands saying, “Bingo!” even thought it was not really bingo (she thought it was). Loren and I looked at each other and could not help to laugh. We felt bad for the host of the game (because Grandma stops the game by saying that she got a bingo when she does not), but we were very much delighted to see how much she was enjoying herself and participating in a social activity. I felt like a parent who is visiting an open house at a child’s school, wondering, “Is my kid doing all right?”

After the bingo game was over, Grandma noticed us and proudly approached us on the wheel chair and showed us a small staffed animal, “Look, I won this at the bingo game! This is my new friend.” It was a small, pink bunny.

After that, Loren met a social worker to process some paper work for Grandma, and Loren’s mom and I pushed Grandma on her wheel chair back to her room and chatted for awhile.

Lunch time came. Grandma went to the dining room to eat lunch with other residents. Loren and I drove out of the nursing home to get some food for us to eat. In the meantime, we discussed numerous ides of how we should broach to Grandma about us leaving. We wanted the moment to be not painful as much as we could. At the same time, we knew that we could not avoid certain amount of pain that we all would feel.

We came back to the nursing home with our lunch. We ate the lunch in Grandma’s room. Grandma requested some ice cream, so Loren’s mom took her to a kiosk at the first floor. She loves ice cream. When we lived together, we almost had to hide some ice cream; otherwise, she would have finished them all in a few days :-) Grandma seemed to be in good spirits as she ate ice cream. She was singing and pretending to feed the staffed animal she won this morning with ice cream. I taped some of that with my digital camera, trying to preserve this sweet moments.

After she was done eating ice cream, she moved herself to the edge of the bed from her wheel chair she was sitting. Then, she asked us, “So, what are you doing here?” She continued, “Is there enough time for you to catch the plane?” We were going to fly out the next morning, so we had a plenty of time. However, as if she knew what we were worriedly thinking, she slit the secretly tensed air for us. Loren made a sign with his eye. I did not expect to leave this early, so I was not emotionally ready for it yet, but I read Loren’s unspoken message in his eyes, “Grandma is giving us a cue. Let’s take it and leave now.”

Loren told Grandma, “Okay Grandma, we’ll get going.”
She asked, “Are you coming back tomorrow?”
“Not for awhile, Grandma,” Loren answered.
At that moment, she closed her eyes tightly while she was still sitting on the edge of the bed, firmly gripping the sheets with both hands as if she was going to ride a roller coaster. Then, she took a deep breath. I felt that the energy of the room changed into something very sacred while she was taking the breath. The next moment, she started to pray out loud. Her body was even more shaking due to Parkinson’s disease, and she was trying to hold her head straight. Her eyes were still closed. She pronounced each word with all the will and power she had. I could not understand what the prayer meant since some words were unfamiliar to me, but I could tell that she was showering us with all the blessings she could possibly have given us. As I immersed myself in that prayer, I could not withhold tears behind my eyes anymore. I had not cried in front of her until that moment, but in that moment, I was barely holding myself up, dissolving in tears. Loren’s shoulders were shaking, too. While his eyes were fixed on this small but mighty lady’s back, large, pearls quietly kept falling out of his eyes.

Grandma finished praying and opened her eyes. She first hugged me who could not do anything but crying and said, “I love you, Akari. I really, really love you. You are my little dolly. Forever. Be beside Loren and help each other, okay?” I nodded and could barely tell her, “I love you, too, Grandma.” Next, it was Loren’s turn to be hugged. He has not cried in front of Grandma after he grew up, but this time, it was an exception. He was simply Grandma’s loving, little Grandson. I could not hear what Grandma told Loren or what Loren told her, but I could hear that they said “I love you” to each other at the end. Loren’s mom who was watching this scene from the hallway was crying, too. The only person who was not crying was Grandma. Then, she said, “Go now.” We left the room behind as we were still crying. After we got on the elevator, Loren said, “I forgot something. I’ll be back” and went back to Grandma’s floor. Loren’s mom and I waited at the parking lot. I felt a strong impulse of wanting to see her again, but I stopped myself from going back because if I see her again, it would make it more difficult for me to leave. I don’t know what Loren forgot. Loren told me later that he found Grandma crying in the hallway when he went back. She was trying to go after us by pushing herself on the wheelchair.

Although we were taking care of Grandma, I thought that Grandma was actually taking care of us. Taking care of her itself was a gift from her. When I realized it, I felt warmth in my heart which made me cry again (a lot of crying in this posting). Grandma was ‘Grandma’ until the very last moment we saw her. Although she got much smaller and got weaker due to the disease, her container that held her soul was still much bigger, stronger, and more sophisticated than ours. I sincerely thanked this great opportunity to spend time with her for the past three years.

The below is the prayer she recited. I learned that it is called “Our Father.”

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.

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お祈りが終わりました。おばあちゃんは目を開けました。そして泣きじゃくる私をまず抱きしめました。そして頭を撫でながら「あかり、愛してるわ。とってもとっても愛しているわ。あんたは私の小さなお人形ちゃん。いつまでもいつまでも。これからもローレンの傍を離れずに二人で支え合って歩いていきなさい。いいわね。」と言いました。私はただただ頷くばかり。かろうじて「I love you. 愛してるよ。」と口に出来ただけでした。そして次にローレンがおばあちゃんの腕の中に抱かれる番でした。おばあちゃんの前では大人になってからは一度も泣いたことのないローレン。このときばかりはおばあちゃんのかわいい、かわいい孫息子、そのままでした。二人が交わした会話は聞こえませんでした。でもお互いに「I love you.」と言っているのは聞こえました。そうしてその様子を部屋の外から見守っていたローレンのお母さんも泣いていました。泣いていないのはおばあちゃんだけでした。そして「さぁ、行きなさい。」と私たちに言いました。私たちは泣きながら部屋を後にしました。エレベーターに乗った後、ローレンが忘れ物をしたと言っておばあちゃんの部屋に戻りました。ローレンのお母さんと私は駐車場のある階でローレンが戻ってくるのを待っていました。私ももう一度おばあちゃんに会いたい気持ちに駆られました。でもまた戻ったら余計におばあちゃんを辛くさせたらいけないと思って、我慢しました。ローレンがどんな忘れ物をしたのかは知りませんでした。後から聞いた話によると私たちが部屋を出てから、おばあちゃんは一生懸命私たちの後を追ってきていたようでした。ローレンが戻るとおばあちゃんが廊下で泣いていたそうです。







At the Nursing Home 老人ホームにて

A room at the nursing home.

Before we drove to the nursing home, we had a lunch at a restaurant. That was the last chance to have a meal with Grandma. She was clear after the doctors put her medications back.

When we checked in at the nursing home, there were a couple of problems. First, 3 pm medications for Grandma were not ready although we called the nursing home in advance from the hospital and confirmed. Luckily, we had 3 pm pills from the hospital just in case, so we used them. Without medications on time, Grandma's physical and memory function goes down due to Parkinson's. The next problem was that no one at the nursing home really welcomed us. We went to the front desk, and we were told to go to a certain room number, and we took us there, and when we got to the room, no one came, so we did not know what to do. Loren looked for a nurse, and finally, a nurse came and set the room up for Grandma. These incidents made us a bit nervous in terms of what kind of care Grandma was going to get from now on, but they were a very seasoned physical therapist, a professional nutritionist who has been working there for a long time, and a keen social worker who helped us feel better. We set up Grandma' phone line and got her phone number. I saved it in my cell phone, thinking that's the number we will call from now on to talk to her. A nurse made Grandma's bed, showed her how to use a bathroom, how to push a buzzer to call her. Grandma seemed to like how the room and the nursing home are decorated which made us feel at ease. She had a roommate, and she seemed to be a nice person. She could not talk loud and fast, so Grandma had to learn to quietly wait her to finish what she had to say. Loren took care of all the necessary documents with the nursing home, and Grandma was exploring things around to adjust to this new "home."

A dinner time came. All residents eat together at the dining room. I pushed Grandma's wheel chair there. She was assigned at a table with five other people. Some could talk but could not hear well. Some could hear well but could not talk well. Some had tubes going up in their nose. I was actually scared, meeting new people with various circumstances. I tried not to show that on my face. Grandma seemed a bit hesitant to sit at the table as well, but kudos to her, she introduced herself to everyone and initiated a conversation with everyone. That's something she is really good at. She makes friends easily and makes everyone feel like included. Loren and I sat at the lounge area where we could see how Grandma was doing in the dining room. We pretended that we were watching a TV in order to let her know that we were not watching her, but we observed carefully. She said that she liked the dinner.

After dinner, she did not want us to leave until she fell in asleep, so we sat around her bed, looking back the crazy days at the hospital and wondering how the next couple of days would go.

Loren, his mom, and I were exhausted. We slept like mud (in Japan, we have this expression. It means that we slept deeply).

A kitchen attached to a dining area.

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Grandma showing how much she can walk to a physical therapist while Loren pushes her wheel chair behind.