One of my favorite quotes is “It is solved by walking.” I first saw it by the entrance of a labyrinth at a retreat center outside Boston. I love this idea, from walking labyrinths as a form of prayer, to walking for exercise (time devoted to the body and spirit), to pilgrimages on “The Way of St. James,” the 500-mile journey from the St. Jean-Pied-du-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Today, this phrase takes on a whole new meaning. My grandparents, whom I’ve written about before, are in varying stages of walking. My granddad finally gave in to the wheelchair, and moves very little on his own two feet. My grandmother, on the other hand, prides herself on the fact that she can still walk, albeit rigidly, but walk she does.
Thursday morning, while my granddad was at dialysis, something he has taken up again since last post, my grandmother decided to go for a walk. She has dementia, so who knows why – was she searching for John or someone else? Did she know what she was doing? Regardless, she was found and the police were called. Not the first time, as my grandparents are stubborn and refuse to leave their home, and their sons haven’t forced them. This time, however, it was “solved by walking” – Grandma Charlotte taking a solo journey down the street. The state officials told my dad and uncle that my grandparents were to never live in their home again – a whole issue in and of itself. Which, for my parents, means they have houseguests – hoarding, incontinent, ill houseguests.
Now, ultimately, this is a blessing and a solution to the problem of them living by themselves. They were completely unable to care for themselves and needed nurses to bathe them and their sons to feed them and give them medicine and rides to dialysis and doctor appointments. If they and my parents live long enough, my grandparents may just be able to live in the right place – an assisted living/nursing home facility.
But that’s a big if. I first thought my grandmother’s walking and being found was a blessing in disguise, but it turns out that my dad/uncle have to get power of attorney before they can do anything. And then, they must sell my grandparents house before they are allowed to move anywhere other than my parent’s home. And like I mentioned, my grandparents are hoarders, so their house is as or more disgusting than anything you have seen on TV. I swear. A few years ago, we did a massive cleaning, and I picked up poop off the floor – I am not sure if it was dog or human. Ew.
So, at least my grandparents are out of their house. And now they have 24-hour care – brought to you by my parents and yours truly. I write this as I grandparent-sit. It is such an odd cycle, isn’t it? I have relied heavily on my parents to take care of my girl, changing her diaper, keeping her safe, making sure she is ok. Now, when my parents have places to be, I make coffee, move a recliner and help my grandmother settle into it, check on them regularly, help place bed pads, and experience how my granddad urinates in bed. Good times.
It is solved by walking – sort of. We have only just begun, and by we, I really mean my dad, who is shouldering so much of the burden. And my mom who must endure the smells and my uncle who is also a husband and father and . . .
This is not the final solution, surely God! But we continue on the path of the labyrinth. For where else can we go?
Former international fashion model Rev. Sarah Renfro seeks to boost the body image of young women by educating them on the myths of media and focusing on divine within. She also preaches and teaches about marriage and divorce, motherhood, ministry, and mental illness.