Sunday, May 5, 2013

Age is Just A Number

This is a picture of my Diddy's aunt Frances who we affectionately nicknamed Franny. For those of you new to my blog, Diddy is my late father who died from West Nile Virus in 2002. None of us met Franny until she came to an extended family reunion in the late nineties at my sister's house one summer. This photo was taken at her eightieth birthday party almost two years ago. She's a pistol. She's computer savvy and sharp as a tack. She's also very hard of hearing and you have to almost yell  for her to hear. She lives on her own in a small tidy house right down the road from the family plot where both my parents and grandparents are buried.
Around 2010 Franny had a catheter put in but the doctor botched it and hit an artery. She had to go to a rehab facility for a couple of months in a neighboring county. Her closest relatives live out of state so my sister and I volunteered to go by and check on her a couple of times a week. It was great getting to know Franny and every visit was a hoot! She was in a semi private room with an older woman who was in pretty bad shape. The woman's daughters were there every  day but  the woman couldn't even feed herself or speak.

Every  day or so either Cindy, my sister or Massey and I would pop in for a visit with Franny. It was always interesting. Frances was always upbeat, never complained and made us all laugh. The part she was in was a rehab facility but for all intent and purpose  was a nursing home to most, and their last stop.  Reality can be brutal.

We decided to put a bird feeder outside Franny's room so she could watch  the birds. I made the alarm go off as I walked out the back door to hang it, got locked out and am pretty sure was on a caution list after that. We were always loud when we were in the room with her because number one: I am a loud person and Number two: We like to laugh a lot.

About one week into her at minimum eight week stay, my  daughter went off to band camp and I offered to bring her laptop for Franny to use. The place offered free WiFi and Franny was very computer literate. She paid all her bills online, checked the  family website daily and most importantly read my Blog.

I took Massey's laptop to Franny the next day and was right off the bat disappointed about the boasted WiFi connection. We wheeled Franny around the entire place before we could pick up a signal. Once we found a signal (in the main lobby) the old peeps on walkers with tennis balls on the front and old peeps who  had been wandering the halls in their wheelchairs for years by scrambling themselves forward with their feet instead of arms were all looking at us like we were from Mars with some new gadget from  another universe and since they all had nothing but time left wanted to see us use  this futuristic device.

The next day was  Sunday, my son Zach and I went to visit Franny. They told us she was in the church service and we waited outside the glass enclosed room. All their heads were bowed and commented to Zach...I don't think ALL of them are praying, I've been known to snooze through a sermon too!

While we waited for the supposed prayer to end we met a therapist waiting for  patient as well. I mentioned I had brought a laptop for my aunt to use and wondered if they had an extra desk for her to keep it on? She said "Well I'll tell you what I tell most of my patients. "When you come here, don't bring valuables, rings or even your teeth, they have a way of walking off." She added it didn't necessarily mean employees but anyone walking through the facility who may see something they could simply walk off with unnoticed.

That made me start thinking, The laptop wasn't even fully paid for and now had to worry about someone stealing it.

When we wheeled Franny back to her room, then up to the front lobby  to log in as all the long term peeps followed us I began to worry.

The next  day I went to buy a case to lock the laptop in but all were soft cases anyone could cut through or walk off with. I ended up at Home Depot and bought a small hard case tool box I could store the laptop in, a bicycle chain to attach the tool box to her bed with a combination lock to open  the  tool box holding the laptop. Dang, was my aunt living in Gitmo or a Turkish prison?

My next  concern was telling her why I was walking into her room with a tool box, bicycle lock, combination lock and putting the laptop inside of it without having to scream at her to understand "They got some thieves around these parts and we gotta lock up the computer."

I printed off a letter for her to read explaining what the therapist had told me so she could read it instead of me screaming it out for everyone to hear.

Franny took my letter and started  to read while two of her church friends sat on her bed. She mumbled along quietly as she  read  and suddenly looked up at  them and said loudly "They say don't even bring your TEETH into this place!"

That's my classic Franny moment. I love this woman. She's a pistol, she got out of there in a few short months when  all the odds were against her. She is still living by herself and over eighty. Yes she has health problems but at least she's not scooting around the hallways of a nursing home in a wheelchair with her feet with nobody to visit or love her.

Massey and I stopped by  a few weeks ago on the way  back from the Sock Shoppe in Griifin to drop off a hot dog from Griffith's Drive In  but  need to  go by  more regularly and check on her. I don't want to  grow old unless I do it like Franny, with a sound mind and a loud voice!

Franny has another birthday coming up in a couple of weeks and I'm gonna be sure to drop by and holler at her!

Wish I could get my sister to comment on picking her up at the airport...Franny is a delight and always makes you smile!

Til next  time...COTTON

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