My Happiest Moment

August 9, 2011
By nevertickleasleepingdragon SILVER, Brooklyn, New York
nevertickleasleepingdragon SILVER, Brooklyn, New York
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live"- Albus Dumbledore

The smell of the Altersheime was starting to get to me, that defining smell of old people mixed with cleaning fluids. I was standing next to my grossmuetti in her wheel chair, my arm on hers, listening half heartedly to her conversation with my mom and the nurse. I'd long since given up on trying to understand anything they said; aside from a few words that I understood when they spoke slowly or made hand gestures, it was all lost in a sea of gibberish. Instead, I occupied myself with observing my grossmuetti... Her papery skin hanging off her bony arms, the liver spots on both hands, her eyelids sagging over her dark clouded eyes, the same green shirt that she'd worn yesterday, her candyfloss white hair barely covering her pale scalp.

“You... come with us too?” My grossmuetti startled me. At first I hadn't realized it was her that had spoken. My heart exploded with affection for her; she really did remember me. I looked up at my mom, completely surprised. We hadn't realized she could still speak English. My mom nodded slightly at me, an incredulous smile was on her face.

“Yeah...” I half mumbled, nodding my head at her.

“Eh?” Grossmuetti hadn't heard me. I cleared my throat and tried again.

“Yes!” My face was lit up with a smile. I could hardly believe my ears. This was the first time she had spoken to me directly aside from a 'hello' in German at the start of the visit.

“You come on foot?” She looked up at me, grey eyes meeting mine. She was smiling. I looked to my mom. Where were we supposedly going on foot? My mom nodded at me, a wide smile spreading across her face.

“Yes,” I responded. The nurse said something in German, and we set off down the pristine hallway. We hadn't gone more than a few paces before the nurse wheeled my grossmuetti over the wall, where she proceeded to hold on to the railing running the length on the hall. She seemed to be trying to get up out of her wheelchair. I was certain the nurse wouldn't let her out, but I was once again wrong.

“Come,” the nurse said to grossmuetti. She turned the chair around and unbelted grossmuetti, guided her hands to the railing, and helped her get up. With much huffing and puffing, she was finally up. Grossmuetti was a little shorter than I was, and much much skinnier. Her bony legs seemed like they would snap with the weight of her.

“Sotely.” Grossmuetti was grinning in a satisfied sort of way. She was gripping the railing so tight that her knuckles were starting to turn white. The nurse brought the chair around to her, guiding her to hold on to the handles of the wheelchair, using it as a sort of walker. Slowly, we began to shuffle down the hallway again. Me and my mom lagged behind a bit, allowing her to get ahead. She went faster, faster, faster! Until she was walking much faster than any of us would have expected. She was flying down the hallway, and we were following her, hardly daring to believe our eyes. This woman, so old and frail, was walking down the hallway. Actually walking. Not shuffling timidly, but showing off to us all how fast she could go. All else was forgotten, the smell was beginning to seem worth it. My grossmuetti was walking... she was talking to me, in English... I couldn't ask for much more. She was happy.

The author's comments:
I wrote this piece shortly after I got back from visiting my Grandmother, or Grossmuetti, in her Altersheime, or retirement home in Switzerland. She's now nearly 93. She had been there nearly six months when I wrote this. She has dementia and Alzheimers, so she doesn't really remember me. I don't speak Swiss German, so when she started talking to me in English, it really made me realize that she remembered me. It meant a lot to me, because since she lives so far away from me, I only get to see her twice a year. The last time I visited her, about a month ago, she barely recognized even her son, my dad. As her memory continues to deteriorate, and her health continues to decline, this memory always helps me to remember the good times that I've had with her, and helps me to remember how spirited and strong she used to be.

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