My grandmother died four years ago. I'll always remember it because it was the day after President Obama's inauguration. She went to sleep that night and silently left us at 103.
I've thought about her a lot since Jodi Foster's crazy but touching Golden Globes speech. The part where she speaks to her mother broke my heart. I can only assume that her mom has alzhiemer's disease. My grandmother had dementia. Badly. One doctor I spoke to looking for answers said that we really aren't meant to live to 103 and our brains slowly go to mush.
My grandmother's dementia began to worsen right at the time my mom got sick. She had a fall and broke her leg. While she was in the hospital, she had a terrible reaction to a pain medication and it threw her into a psychotic state that she never fully recovered from. She spoke non-stop for three days. It came back to me so vividly this morning dealing with Will. At the time in the hospital, her lips were cracked and bleeding because of the constant chatter. If I tried to put stuff on them to relieve her pain, she tried to bite me. Instead, I pretended that we were going to a cocktail party and that she needed her lipstick. Vaseline became a deep shade of red and water was our gin and tonics. It worked. This morning, Will's lips were much the same after a stuffed up snooze. He cried at the vaseline but jumped for joy at the idea of lipstick! (aka lip gloss - don't tell my dad!).
A few years after her hospital stay, the dementia had catapulted her into a very dark and scary world. 90% of the time, she was totally out of it, her mind being driven by memories; years of harlequin romances and the Young the Restless. The other 10% was split between recognizing she was losing it and being her old bitchy self. By that point, I missed that bitchy side. It was so much easier to deal with than her tears.
All of this rambling comes from a scene in The Impossible, which I saw last night. I'm not giving anything away because my god, you watch the trailer and nothing is left to see. I really did lose my mind at the whole part with the mom and her one son trying to get to each other after the tsunami hit. But this scene? Well have a peek.
What is it about the quiet 'shhhhh' that can immediately calm you, on both the giving and receiving end? From when we're babies and right through our lives. On the third day of my grandmother's hospital ranting, my mom couldn't take it anymore and got masked up and came to see her. She got close, held her hands and shh'ed her quietly. And she stopped. She stopped talking. And my mother felt the relief of being able to calm her. Years later, when she was at her very worst, I tried the same. I'd hold her down and ssshh her until she'd lie still. Her eyes were wide open and staring but her breathing was slow and she relaxed. And I relaxed.
I'd forgotten all of this until those two little sshh's Naomi Watts gave in the movie. Never underestimate the power of a sshhh. It works on babies for a reason but I don't think we ever lose that part of us that is comforted by it - in saying it and hearing it.
I miss you Moo Moo. I'll have a extra large Timmy's for you today.
*that's her in the middle!