Monday, February 18, 2008


My father's father celebrated his 95th birthday this weekend. (This is my biological family, nothing to do with my step-dad.) When I saw him yesterday he was in fine form, looking nowhere near ready to shuffle off this mortal coil.

My Buby and Zaidy have a one-bedroom apartment in an assisted-living facility called The Terrace. They have a cleaning service; one meal per day is provided to them in the communal dining room (they have a kitchenette for the other meals); and almost everything they could want or need is available on the premises. In fact, it's so comfortable and convenient that Ken and I are tempted to move in.

You can access all of these things without leaving the building: banking services, a general store, the hairdresser, the dentist, a health clinic, a library, a swimming pool, a gym, two synagogues (mild and hardcore), an arts-and-crafts room, a greenhouse complete with chirping songbirds, and a ton of on-site programs, lectures, parties, and clubs. So, does anyone else want to move in with us? Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

OK, so it's not exactly Club Med. If you're in your early 80's here, you're still young, just one of the new kids. But if you have to end up somewhere near the end of your life, better here than a smelly nursing home. Relatively speaking, the joint is jumping.

It works well for my grandparents. My Buby, 5 feet tall and fiercely independent, is over 90 now but hasn't slowed down one bit. Her mind is as sharp as a tack and she moves quickly. First thing when I walk through the door, she always throws her arms around my neck and squeezes hard. Half-hug, half-wrestling hold. That's how she rolls. My Zaidy requires constant care, but even with the option of a long-term care facility just a block away, she won't give him up. Even though it would mean she could get out more. They are completely devoted to each other.

My Zaidy's brain has been slowly disorganizing itself over the years. Sometimes he seems quite lucid, but mostly he gets lost in the grey space between now and his memories. Yesterday he kept asking after my father, Isaac the hat maker. Isaac is some long-dead relative I've never heard of. My Buby gently corrects him each time.

She has to hide his shoes at night, lest he go wandering while she's asleep. One time he got half-way across the city on his own, with no money. We figure that well-meaning people must have given him lifts, and/or the streetcar driver didn't argue when he couldn't pay the fare. The police found him standing on a street corner downtown. He used to own an auto service station on that corner, 50 years ago. It's been long since torn down. He knew exactly where he was going, in space. It was in time that he got lost.

I'm glad he stuck around in the land of the living for one more year. He gazes at me with his bright, ice-blue eyes, and tells me "you can't buy good feelings with people". Sometimes he knows exactly who I am, and he sings the same song we used to sing together when I was a little girl and he was driving me home from their house. Yeah, you can't buy that.

My Zaidy says "They're gonna have to shoot me!" I think that means he's planning on hanging around until we're ready to celebrate his 96th.


jameil1922 said...

lmao @ they're going to have to shoot me. fabulous. at least he still remembers you sometimes. that makes it easier. my 3rd cousin (? idk there are so many cousins) wrote a poem about losing his mom to alzheimers. he said God was taking her away slowly instead of all at once. i thought that was fabulous. i think the disease runs in my family. mild and hardcore synagogues is the funniest description! lol

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Wow.. Congrats on 95 thats quite an accomplishment.

PixieVonAzia said...

Awww that's such a nice way of always remembering the strength they have. The love they have and the way they are together sounds like the movie 'The Notebook'.

I was like hardcore synagogues? Did I just read that right? And man I would in a heartbeat move into that facility. Never have to drive to the grocery store or to the bank.. ahhh heaven =)

Karen said...

Way to gramps. 95 is quite an age.

Keera Ann Fox said...

I feel like giving you a combo hug and wrestling hold. That was a wonderful dose of love, humor, and bittersweet.

Aurora said...

Hardcore and mild synagogues, heh! That sure sounds like a nice place to end up. At least it makes up a little bit for not having quite all of one's marbles. The best thing is that they've got each other and you and the rest of the family. Happy Family Day :-)

Anonymous said...

That is definitely something to be proud of, reaching 95 and still kicking! Oh the things he has seen. At least you know you have good genes!

R.E.H. said...

95 is an impressive age indeed. Funny, yet scary, story about him going out on the town like that. Good thing he didn't get in trouble that time.

Jenski said...

Your Buby and Zaidy sound great. "He knew exactly where he was going, in space. It was in time that he got lost." I love your descriptions of them. I also hope that when I'm a young whipper-snapper at 80, I find a great assisted-living facility with all that stuff going on!

Sparkling Red said...

Thanks to everyone for your feedback. It warms my heart to be able to share my Buby and Zaidy with you.

Leighann said...

What an awesome post! Happy 95th Gramps!

Nicole said...

Happy belated birthday :D!

Yes, that one sounds indeed great, comfy :)
I'll move in with you all :)

And the love that they share for each other just makes my heart ache. It's wonderful to see something like that happening in our times!

Hope he stays safe and of the streets. It's scary when they start wondering off :S

Awww, makes me wish for parts of my family still being around.
But what would it help me? I'm far away anyway.... hope yours will stay another bunch of years :)!!