Last summer, I knew nothing about my grandma’s condition. My aunt only chose to tell me that she was getting sick and her memory was getting worse. That’s not so bad, right? I mean, “all old people get sick and eventually forget things,” I told myself. But the truth about her condition was much worse than I was ready for.
It was the month of July when my aunt told me that my grandma had been admitted into Markham Stouffville Hospital. My aunt never said why or how bad her condition was. All I got was a text with less than 10 words – I kept asking more questions, but I never got a full answer.
My papa had passed a year ago that month and, since his passing, my grandma had been lost. My papa was her rock, and mine too. I knew my grandma would have a hard time with his passing, but I never expected this to come from it.
One morning in July, I had arranged with my aunt to visit my grandma. I was nervous; I hadn’t seen her since Christmas, which was our first one without papa. But she was not sick and nothing seemed off about her during the holidays, so in my head I didn’t imagine it to be a big deal. I just considered it to be something that comes with old age.
The whole ride there I kept trying to guess what her “sickness” could be. My aunt had been very brief and almost avoided the topic. My best guess was skin cancer, since I remember she had it when I was younger.
I was wrong—so wrong.
I finally got to the hospital at two in the afternoon. I managed to get myself into the hallway where her room was located. I took a deep breath and walked in.
She was sitting in a chair watching TV. My first words were “Hi Grandma, I missed you so much.”
Her first words were, “Are you my new nurse?”
In an instant, I felt an anxiety attack coming on as my body temperature rapidly began to rise. My hand was shaking and I couldn’t get a word out. While I was trying not to panic, I just saw blankness in her eyes—she genuinely thought I was her new nurse.
I didn’t answer and instead said, “Could you hold on one moment?” I left the room and went into the hallway. I called my mom and started to cry.
My mom told me to just go with the flow—something I suck at very much. I walked back into my grandma’s room and she looked at me and said, “You look like my granddaughter, Julia.”
Finally, she remembered me.
I responded, “Yes, Grandma, it is me!”
She looked shocked — like I had just told her I was a ghost. She started to cry and I started to cry. We started to talk like normal until she randomly got up and asked a nurse walking by when she would be done her shift. One moment she was here with me, the next she thought she was a nurse.
The nurse looked at me and then back at my grandma.
“Soon, Mary, so just go sit back down,” she replied.
Yet again, I didn’t know how to respond, because how did she go from being okay to not okay in less than two minutes? But like my mom said, I went with the flow.
Eventually, my grandma brought up my papa.
She asked, “When is papa coming back?”
“Soon, Grandma,” I said, though I knew he would never be coming back.
She continued on to her next question, asking me when I would be entering high school and if I was excited. I responded, “Next year,” even though I was actually entering my second year of university.
Somewhere in the middle of that conversation, with a blink of an eye, she switched back to herself again.
Through this, I learned that having love for someone is also having the patience to care for them when they are in need.
That day I stayed for two hours. I was a nurse, a friend, a granddaughter and my thirteen-year-old self in the span of those two hours. And either way, I would be anyone my grandma wanted if that meant she would be happy.