Who are the Grands?

They are 90 and 93, and they live each day like there is no tomorrow. Because there may not be. Their minds are not what they used to be and their bodies are breaking down bit by bit, but inside those old minds and bodies they are the same independent-minded young people that forged their own way in this world and made a good life for themselves. This is both a blessing and a challenge, as you'll see in the posts below. Welcome to our journey!

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Super-Grandma Goes to the Courthouse

Friday was one of those days when I had a lot planned and a lot of obligations, but I thought I had plenty of time to do everything. I had a doctor's appointment for Grandma at 11, then lunch with her, then take her to Walmart. I didn't have any other appointments until 4 PM when I had to be in court for one of my CASA cases. No problem, I thought. There's five hours between her doctor's appointment and court.

Famous last words. Grandma ended up taking two hours in Walmart. Her Walmart shopping trips work like this: I drop her off in front of Walmart and get her a cart and she toodles around the store with her cart until she's ready. Then she calls me on her cell phone to come pick her up. Usually she's there an hour. But the thing is, we haven't been to Walmart in weeks because of the holidays, and Grandma needed to peruse the vast and various night cream section of the store.

All that is to say that suddenly it was 3:15 and I hadn't heard from Grandma. Not only that, it was pouring down rain, and in January in northern Illinois that means icy roads and flooding. Might I add, it takes 30 minutes to get her home and 20 minutes to get to court. Even if she called right then, I wouldn't have enough time to get to court by 4 PM. And of course I was in front of a new judge. Great first impression, I thought.

Finally, at 3:20 she called. I immediately picked her up but I told her my dilemma. Well, my able-bodied and Wonder-Woman Grandma said, "I'll just go to court with you." I fussed over that but she said, "There's nothing else we can do. You have to get to court." I reluctantly agreed. She's been to the courthouse before, but the weather was a lot better and Grandpa wasn't sick. I was worried about Grandpa being alone that long. But we called Bickford House (their senior living home) and they let us know that he was doing fine so off we went to the courthouse.

We got there and of course there was no convenient parking. I figured the parking structure would be easiest. I'm not so sure that was the best choice in retrospect, but once I had that little ticket in my hand I was committed. So up the structure we went. The only spots were ones on the third floor with large inclines for Grandma to climb to get to the elevator. Arggh. So I dropped her off by the elevator doors, parked, and joined her. We took the elevator down and then it was a long walk through the icy structure to the street. Both of us were slipping a little, but we went trooping along. When we got to the sidewalk, people on the street were warning us that it was very icy. But we had no choice but to keep moving.

We kind of needed to hurry at this point because it was already 3:55. But how do you hurry a 90-year-old woman with a walker along an icy sidewalk? Answer: you don't. We headed out into the street after avoiding several melting snowbanks. The icy street was a challenge in itself, and I had worn my black boots with no tread. Perfect. Then there was an enormous puddle of running water  at the edge of the sidewalk. Grandma had to walk right through it, her little white Reeboks covered in fast-moving water.

Finally, we made it inside. The policewoman at the metal detector wanted Grandma to walk through without her walker. So I'm trying to get my bags on the conveyor belt and help Grandma at the same time. I directed her walker through but then there she was, wobbling along with no walker. So we both went through the detector together which really threw the poor policewoman for a loop. The other policeman knew me, though, so he just waved us through.

We got settled outside the courtroom. There were a few truancy officers and a few parent-child pairs waiting on the hard wooden benches. I informed the other people sitting there that my grandma was here because she hadn't been attending school. Everyone chuckled.

As it turned out, all our rushing wasn't needed. We sat there for an hour waiting for my child's case to be called. During that hour, Grandma whispered to me about this and that. She fussed over me. She told me not to pick at my nails. She thought no one could hear her except me, but actually everybody could hear her. When I walked to the garbage and back, she whispered, "You've got a string on your butt." The others  laughed. Grandma was so surprised. "You all can hear me?!"

No dignity, folks. There I was, dressed up like an official court person and my grandma was sitting with me telling me I had a string on my butt. I rolled my eyes and laughed along with them. I gave up on having any dignity at all and let Grandma take the string off. It was about an inch long. "Oh, that's a big thing," I said. "Well," she said, "I didn't say it was big."

I finally got called into court, came out in less than five minutes, got downstairs to the entrance, and then the real fun began. As icy as it was when we got there, it was nothing compared to now. Every cement surface was a solid sheet of ice. People walking by were warning us about the ice. I didn't know what to do, really. I had no clue. I looked around for help but everyone was gone for the day. Finally, I decided to get the car and park it as close as I could to the entrance. It would still be half a block away because of the gated parking but it would be the best I could do. On my way to the car, I almost fell a few times, but I made it.

I wondered what in the world I was going to do to get Grandma to the car. I called the police non-emergency number because the courthouse is right across the street from the police station, but they were so busy with emergencies they didn't answer. I drove down the structure, slid the car sideways into the lot entrance in front of the gate, and then walked carefully to the door, praying that God would help me figure this out.

Thank the Lord, there was a man, one of the bailiffs, and a friend of mine standing with her. Greg the bailiff helped my little grandma out to the car. Grandma said, "Oh, I'm really slipping." She'd take a few steps and then say, "If you weren't hanging onto me, I'd already have fallen." She asked him his name and asked him what he did at the courthouse. He answered her gently and helped her along. When they got to the car, she said, "Don't let go of me yet, not until I get into the car." He said, "Oh I know. I've got you. Don't worry. I do the same thing for my mother."

Greg the bailiff, you're my favorite person at the courthouse. God bless you. Thank you.

From that point, we made it home, two world explorers who had been on a great big adventure to the courthouse. On the ride home, Grandma and I talked about the amazing love of God  It couldn't be an accident, that bailiff stopping to wait with Grandma and my friend who just happened to be right there. It couldn't be an accident that we managed to get where we needed to go safely. It just couldn't. That's too coincidental.

Here we are, small and insignificant compared to the almighty God, and yet He loves every single one of us and looks out for us in all our times of need. Thanks, God. We needed you and you were there.

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