On Wednesday Tina and I drove to Grand Rapids, Michigan to my maternal grandparents’ home. They live in a not-so-assisted-yet-slightly-assisted home. We rolled in around 6:30 or 6:45 eastern time from Chicago, and we immediately gathered around a small table with my Gs, my Ps, and my sister Kelly. We ate my mom’s excellent pea soup and some pigs in blankets (best I’d ever eaten) that my grandpa bought at a church bake sale.
The pigs were more like sausage in a crumbly, buttery dough bread. The ones I grew up eating were hot dogs wrapped in Pilsbury-style croissants.
After dinner, my dad and I walked over to a game room equipped with a couple computers to print out directions on how to get to his sister’s house in Waukegan, Michigan where we’d have Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday night with the Witteveen clan. Thursday morning at 11 a.m., we had reservations at a restaurant to gather with my mom’s side of the family.
While dad was bumbling around on the computer to check his mail and search mapquest for directions, I found a Nintendo Wii hooked up to a flat-screen TV on the wall. I turned it on and bowled ten frames. My brother Jon called while I was on the 4th frame to tell us that he and SiL (my sweet Sister in Law) were decorating the house for Christmas. We got off the phone and I noticed I had bowled to frame eight.
My dad saw me bowling and wanted to give it a try, so I set up another Wii controller. He proceeded to kick my ass through the first 6 frames and I told him we should get back to the room before I had a temper tantrum mom killed us for being gone so long.
Wii Wii Wii all the way home
The whole family ended up traipsing down to the game room for a romp on the Wii. It was fun.
My Gs have the heat set to 190 degrees (I’m not kidding) in their apartment. Getting out of the apartment is a welcome respite from the slow-roasting bacteria factory in my Gs’ place.
When my dad and I left the apartment, he pulled me aside and said, “When we got here, it was even hotter than it is now. We couldn’t touch the thermostat until grandma and grandpa went to bed. Once they did, I turned off the heat, opened up the door to the hallway and the door to the outside and cooled it off. We haven’t turned the heat back on, but it’s still THAT hot.”
My gram feels cold a lot, and my gramps keeps the heat up for her. Gram’s health isn’t superb. She may have had multiple small strokes that have begun to prevent her from extensive vocal expression. She can share short bursts of energy in one to five word strings. But for the most part, she’s non conversational.
My gramps takes really good care of her, and perhaps it’s such good care that he might not see the necessity for professional care. My mom and her siblings are trying to help where they can. But my gramps is stubborn, and wants to handle the day-to-day himself. I’m not sure I read the manual on “What to Do When You’re Old” either. So who knows?
On Wednesday night, my Ps took T and me over to my Uncle Rick’s and Aunt Sherry’s where we’d stay for the night. They live in a house my gramps built. He and my gram lived there for years, before they moved into the community living home they are in now.
It’s a duplex bungalow. Their daughter — my cousin Charity — lives with two roommates on one side. And another guy lives on the top floor of the other side with his wife and dog. When my uncle and aunt are in town, they live in the basement below the guy and his wife. It’s a temporary setup of convenience and agreed upon as part of the rental deal that when Rick and Sherry are in town, they can stay in the basement space. .
They have a couple blowup mattresses, some mismatched chairs and a couple regular mattresses where Tina and I slept. The bathroom, kitchen, laundry and shower are all in the same space. It definitely inspired me to consider the luxury of not living like that. Is it a luxury? How necessary is it not to have a toilet in the same room as your oven?
We caught up with Uncle Rick and Aunt Sherry before my mom and dad left. They spend their time between Grand Rapids and Charleston, SC. My uncle is retired, but he works as a freelancer in engineering. He shares a passion for photography. We were able to show him pictures of Tina’s interiors (not her lady parts, psychos) that she’s been working on and show them some of my work. They told us about some of their on-going projects, gave updates on their lives and their kids.
My parents left around 11 p.m., and then we hit the hay for Thursday. Yay.
Well, I stayed up reading “The God Delusion” most of the night. I meant to grab “The Greatest Show on Earth,” but neither book is in its sleeve, and they look a lot alike when you’re rushing out the door.
We were thankful for a warm bed and a good time spent with family.