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The Present: August 15

My last blog entry was last Saturday morning. Lawrence and I had a lovely day in spite of the weather, looking at Antiques with our grandchildren, eating lunch at their favorite restaurant (McDonald’s)  and shopping  at Wal-mart, where we bought a bicycle helmet for our grandson. He had one, but it was themed from the ‘Cars’ Disney movie, and his friends had some with a rubber “mohawk” on top that he thought was cool. He is five and has a birthday at the end of this month, so I asked him if that was what he wanted. He has been telling me about all kinds of things he wants for his birthday, and I cannot afford to buy them all. Some can wait for Christmas, and even then he probably won’t get everything he would like. He helped pay with his piggy bank money.

As soon as we got home he wanted to try it out on his bicycle with training wheels and ride down the street to see if his friends were out. I walked alongside of him and saw his friends just as they were getting into their car. One of them called out just as he disappeared behind the closing door: “Cool helmet!”, which made my grandson very happy. When we got back home he wanted me to take off his training wheels. I thought he was about the right age for this big step, so I got out my husbands tool set and took them off. Then we went down to the trail and he got on, with me holding onto the seat. I was wrong, He was not ready. He was terrified of falling and had no sense of balance whatsoever. I was not about to run up and down the trail beside him until he acquired that sense of balance, so the training wheels went back on, much to my grandson’s satisfaction.

Then we came inside and I began to help my husband Lawrence get the evening meal ready. That was when our son’s phone rang. He was instructed by his recently deceased wife’s cousin to go to the airport and pick up his mother in law from Mexico. Yes, we had a surprise house guest from Mexico until Thursday morning. She was understandable very concerned about the welfare of her grand children after learning of her daughter’s death. We knew she had been trying to come to see them but had been denied a Visa, even after our son had gone to the trouble to send the necessary documents proving Lily’s death, so her visit was a complete surprise.

Needless to say, it was a very stressful week. I hurried to clear my office so she could use it as her bedroom (it has a fold out sofa), and I tried to call some friends who speak Spanish to ask if they could come over to translate for us. No one was available, but Lily had a friend who has a husband who agreed to come over at 8:00. So we had dinner together before he arrived, not being able to understand one another. I had two years of Spanish in high school, and two semesters in college, but have not spoken it since, so remembered very little. I spoke a few words to her when she first arrived and must have sounded pretty good because she started chatting with me as if we were having a conversation and I had to say “Lo siento, no comprende”. I said that a lot while she was here.

The volunteer translator was wonderful that evening, because of course Lily’s mother had many questions. Our son did not like having to describe again what happened to Lily. He wanted to forget the ordeal concerning her death and remember only the positive things. But for her mother’s sake he patiently answered all of her questions.

During the time Lily’s mother was here, we tried using different internet translators, but for some reason, when we read what she typed it did not make sense most of the time, and I had to wonder if what we typed in was being translated correctly. We made the best of the situation, however, cleaning together, running errands together and playing with the children.

We are taking Lily’s mother to visit her other grandson in northern Ohio this weekend, God willing. She has been staying with Spanish speaking friends since Thursday. We want to show her that we love her and feel compassion for her situation. It must be difficult to be in a foreign land under such circumstances. I wish we could bring a translator with us though. I hope a translator is available when we get there. Her 12 year old grandson does not speak Spanish.

During this past week I have been thinking of how we communicate with older people who have experienced hearing loss, or dementia. Communication is what makes us whole. If we can’t communicate, something within us is not nourished, and we suffer. It is terribly frustrating and stressful for the one who suffers from hearing loss and/or dementia, and equally so for the one with whom they interact. Great patience is needed. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could enlist the services of a translator in those circumstances?

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