Tuesday, March 6, 2012

spit fires & growing old

Florian & Ethel Happ (Chris's grandparents) Weren't they a handsome couple?

     This past Sunday was a pretty typical one around these parts. We woke up and had breakfast. Chris went out and did morning cattle chores while I cleaned the kitchen to the sweet sounds of the "50's" channel on Pandora. Whenever I'm getting behind on housework/am too lazy to turn off whatever crap reality show I'm watching and get off my keister, I find that music from the 1950's gets me into high gear and fast. Suddenly my little hamster cage upstairs is rolling in said high gear and I don't want to just stop after the kitchen, no, no, NO.. I want to keep going. I want to give the ENTIRE house a cleaning overhaul and I want to do it NOW.. Maybe its the idea that the stereotypical '50's housewife kept everything in check in her home..meals, laundry, etc.. but especially the cleanliness of her home. So that was my day on Sunday. The only plan we had on the horizon was a birthday dinner for Chris's Grandma Happ's 92nd birthday at 5:45.
     Around 5:00, we started to get gussied up for the birthday dinner. I removed my yellow, rubber gloves and threw on something presentable. Just as we were about to go out the door, Chris's mom texted us to tell us that the dinner was canceled. Grandma wasn't "doing good". In her old age, sometimes she is just too tired to make it out so we just assumed that this was the case. But the words "not feeling well" would have been more comforting than "not doing good". That phrase implies that something is wrong with her. Chris called his mom to get some clarification. Evidently, Grandma was doubled over in a chair in pain and her leg was cold and swollen. She lives with Chris's Aunt Betty and her husband Les so we figured if anything else were to happen they would let us know.
     The next morning we found out that she had been taken by ambulance to the hospital with a blood clot in her leg. We headed straight there after morning cattle chores. Chris's Grandma Ethel is about 5'2'' and weighs maybe 90 lbs. Although slight of build, she is one of the biggest spit fires I've ever known. You wouldn't know it from the way she acts or talks that she is 92 years old. She never complains about it. When we walked into the hospital room, she looked better than we expected. She was sitting up in the chair and was alert as ever. We asked her how she was doing and she replied "Well, I feel fine. I feel like I could go home but they are making me stay for 4 days. I'm good." Later when the nurse came in and noticed her coughing, she asked Grandma how long the cough had been around for. Grandma told her it had been a while. The nurse then asked her if she had been a smoker and Grandma got on a high horse and said"NO. I tried smoking once and that was enough for me. It was terrible. I don't know why anyone would want to do that for enjoyment." It was nice to see that she still had that spark even though she was in the hospital.
        Up until this past fall, she had been living all by herself in the farmhouse that Chris's dad and his 7 brothers and sisters grew up in. Her husband passed away a few years back after spending years in the nursing home after his stroke. She was still making roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy for Chris & his dad for lunch whenever they'd stop in. The only thing she wasn't allowed to do was go outside by herself. She had been told this before after an incident on a freezing winter day when she walked out to feed the cats, fell in a snowbank and couldn't get up. Thank God she had her phone on her and was able to call for help. After that, Chris's dad, Joe, told her that he would take care of cat chores and for her to stay inside. That summer she fell on the sidewalk going out to feed the cats and hit her head on the concrete. When we got over there to help her she was a bloody mess. It was so sad to see. When I was dabbing her hair with a warm washcloth to get the blood off she kept making jokes about it and never complained about the pain. As I'm sure most people feel as they grow older, she obviously feels like her body has failed her mind. Her entire life she had been such a hard working woman who did everything for herself and now she's in her 90's and doing those same things is a detriment to her own health.
         This is the same woman who lost her mother when she was in her late teens and pretty much raised her younger brothers and sisters when her father remarried to a woman who looked at Ethel as no more than a hired maid. She raised 6 daughters and 2 sons in a spik and span home, making home cooked meals, gardening, doing yard work, and feeding her husband and his brothers after a long day of farming. Listening to her tell me stories of her life is one of my favorite things. She isn't someone who has ever felt sorry for herself or let others push her around. She's one of my heros.
          I know she will be ok. The doctors say that she's already doing better. They've got her on some blood thinners and as far as I know she should be back home by the weekend.


  1. that's awful.
    i am so sorry. :/
    all will work out.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. She is already doing better and is in physical therapy now. She'll be back home in no time :)


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