Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Nanny and The Princess

Steve’s a lucky man. I told him so when I was there last Monday. He was sitting on the steps leading from the basement room while his mother-in-law, Nanny, lay nearby on the sofa and his granddaughter rumbled up-and-down-and-all-around the steps, my chair and her Nanny. They’re 90 years apart in age. Nanny is 94 and Princess is 4. This was shared like some sort of insider knowledge that I was let in on rather than clinical information. I was intrigued with the idea as I watched Nanny and the Princess interact.

I asked the princess if I could write a story about her and publish it on the web in my blog and she grinned a little at the idea and said I could but I couldn’t use her name because of the HIPA law. We tried to figure out a name I could call her. Her pink jacket says “Princesses” all across the back like a team jacket for some Tinker Bell squad. So Princess it is.

Of course, in the words of Joe Friday, all the names in this blog are changed, “to protect the innocent.” I really didn’t want to change Steve’s name because his real one fits him and his solid masculine presence in Nanny’s darkened basement room. He loves her and I can see it when they have these little barbed exchanges that are two-thirds ribbing. It’s said in the house that he can do more with Nanny than even her daughter, Ann (I used “Ann’ here because it sorta fits her and I like the name). Ann exudes patience with Nanny and Steve. Sometimes I hear her exasperation and worry that this all is harder on her than anyone will ever know. But she is a feminine counterpart to Steve and it all seems to be working as well as it could under the circumstances. They are a pretty incredible team in the matter of caring for Nanny and the Princess.

I decided to write about this because the Princess brought me her Tinker Bell Squad Jacket and pointed out the three princesses embroidered on the back. She informed me that they were, “Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and some other figure that I never heard of from, no doubt, some Disney film. So in my ornery style with bright little girl types, I purposely got them backwards over and over in ways that had Princess standing with her hands on her hips saying, “NO, that not right.” (Except she did the “no” like little girls do when they’re annoyed – “NO wa”) I looked over at Nanny and she had a look of pleasure on her face that I loved and I knew I had to share the magic of the moment.

“Oh, this is Cinderella and THIS is Sleeping Beauty.”
“NO wa. THIS is Sleeping Beauty and THIS is Cinderella.”
“Okay, okay. I got it. Wait a minute, who’s THIS one? I know THIS is Cinderella – “
Groaning at my utter stupidity, “NO wa.”
(Nanny was still adoring her great grand daughter with her eyes and the love flowing from her, across the floor in front of the grumbling gas space heater, past my legs, spiraling all around the little girl was like pixie dust)

I looked up at Steve who had had an awful cold. “You’re a lucky man, Steve. You don’t feel like it right now but you’re a lucky man.”

“I dow id. Imb a lucky bann.”

There’s so much that’s hard about hospice but when I see a family create magic out of the sheer hard work of caring for each other, my spirit is lifted on pink sparkling pixie dust spiraling ‘round and ‘round between the heavens and the earth where love really works.

I’m a lucky man too, Steve.


At Tuesday, 22 March, 2005 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the daughter of Steve and Ann, aunt to the Princess (and she is), and grand daughter to Nanny. Thank you. This is wonderful and we are an extremely lucky family.

At Tuesday, 22 March, 2005 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very touching story. Not all families have this kind of relationship and they should all feel very blessed and special. I hope that "Princess" will realize how lucky she is to have been around her "Nanny", because you learn valuable things from grand and great grand parents even at her early age. I also think it is important that she has seen how her grandparents have taken care of "Nanny" and how important family is and to remember to respect and care for all.

At Tuesday, 14 June, 2005 , Anonymous "Steve" said...

Hi Ken, well it's been 7 weeks since we said good-bye to Nanny. Yes, we still go downstairs to check on her, we still feel the need to hurry back home to make sure she is o.k. while we are out running errands, but we are also confident that Nanny is in a better place and enjoying her time with old friends and relatives. Oh yea, there is one other thing we still do, we tell everyone how important all the people at Hospice are to us and how we would not have been able to deal with Nanny's illness as well as we did if you fokes had not been there. Our prayers are with all of you, keep up the good work.
I am a lucky man and I know it!!


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