Nana lives six hours from her closest family member. We have tried a million times to get her to move, but she won't leave her mountains. Over the past five years, we have had to rely on home health care and sitters several different times when she has had a sick spell and been unable to care for herself.
Nana absolutely hates having anyone in her house. She sent one helper to the store to buy groceries and locked her out while she was gone. She never let her back in the house.
She fired one nurse because "looking at your fat behind makes me sick. And you call yourself a health care professional."
She fired another because her perfume was too strong and another because she refused to wear a starched, white uniform. (Remember, Nana is a nurse from a different era.)
And the lastest dismissal? Findley and I were in North Carolina for a wedding in October. Our first morning to sleep late in at least a year. My cell phone started ringing about 7:00 am. I let it go to voice mail the first time, but when I saw it was Nana's sitter, I answered. I had seen Nana the day before and all she had wanted to talk about was getting rid of all of her helpers.
"Hello?" I asked, rather sleepily.
"Mrs. Abby, your Nana has pulled a gun on me. She told me to get the hell out of her house. What should I do? Is it ok to leave her?"
I was wide awake. And I didn't have to think too long on this one.
"Run," I responded. "Get your purse and don't go back."
And so, ever since October, Nana has been home alone.
We all know that she shouldn't be. For at least the last year and a half, she has needed around the clock care. She forgets to take her medicine (or doesn't want to, I'm not sure), she is too short of breath to fix her meals and clean her house, and if she feels bad, she'll just quit eating and drinking all together. But she has refused to move in with me or my parents, she has refused assisted living, and she fires everyone we hire to help her.
She wants to stay in her house by herself and up until today, we have let her.
She is back in the hospital tonight because she has let her health get out of control again. The lady who took her to the hospital said the house was a mess, there was no food, and no sign of any of her prescriptions.
I talked to her the day before yesterday and she sounded fine. I asked about the swelling in her legs and about who had gone to the grocery for her that week. She gave good answers to both questions, but now I know it wasn't the truth.
I don't know if she was lying to me or if she is so confused, she was unaware of her condition. Either way, something has to give.
Nana's stubbornness is legendary. One time she drove her car through the garage door because my grandfather refused to open it for her. They were in the middle of a blizzard and he didn't think she should be driving. She thought otherwise.
She wanted my mother to wait until she and dad finished medical school before they got married, but they didn't. So she refused to go to her only child's wedding. That is stubborn. I've never asked her if she regrets that decision, but I am sure she must. Little did she know that my mother only had four more years to live.
But Nana's tenacity is often a good trait, too. It has enabled her to endure an indescribable amount of suffering and helped her to care for all of us in the process. And it is most certainly the reason she has made it this long on her own.
I don't think she is the only one whose greatest gift is also her greatest downfall.
I have a lot of Nana's strong spirit in me. A lot. And if I even think Virginia is being mistreated, you better get out of my way. But my determination (or red hair, as Findley calls it) often gets me in trouble, too.
Tonight I am praying that in mine and Nana's old age, God will help each of us better discern which battles are worth fighting and when we need to do a better job embracing humility.