When I saw Grandma Chaya in May, she squeezed my arms and said, “Que gorda!” Translation: “What fat!”
She then asked my name.
I looked at her strangely and replied, “Helena!”
“What a beautiful name,” she replied. “My mother’s name was Helena, too.” Grandma then asked where I was from. “Portales!” I replied. “Oh,” she said. “I know people there.”
Grandma Chaya has symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, although she hasn’t been officially diagnosed. But at age 88, Grandma Chaya is sharp in many ways. She doesn’t like being still. When I saw her in Lubbock last week, she was washing dishes and making beds.
A physical therapist visited her and asked to see her wheelchair or walker. She doesn’t use either. He asked for her cane. Doesn’t use one. In fact, the physical therapist said my aunt Chelo, 64, who takes care of grandma, is the one who could use physical therapy.
Grandma Chaya’s mom, Helena, lived to be 93. Grandma Chaya has outlived a husband and endured a long, hard life which included working in cotton fields while pregnant.
Sometimes we laugh at grandma’s forgetfulness; sometimes I feel sad. But someone was recently impressed by the fact that I still have my grandma, my only surviving grandparent.
I feel extremely blessed by her continued presence.