I go with my grandmother to her doctor's appointments. Her husband, my grandfather, will not assist or accompany her on these appointments, and because I understand that she seems alone in those moments, I have volunteered to go with her. This week, I assisted her when she got her scan of her lungs. Then the next day I cleaned her toe nails, massaged her feet and lotioned them. The next day we went to her foot doctor that done more extensive work on her feet and toe nails than I can do. I figured I'd leave some work for the expert and professionals. The next day, I go with her to get something else checked out. She said she felt like it was her kidneys, so I accompanied her to her doctor. When she was describing her symptoms, I said "Oh, so a UTI."
And of course my grandmother got a prescription for that, which was sent over to the grocery store we go to. I told her to drink tea for the UTI, and that is the most effective thing for me when I've got one.
Then she needed to see her allergy doctor, so we went there, and I accompanied her to that appointment, but I'm still wondering why she went there. Then she got an her allergy shot; and we headed over to the grocery store to get her prescription. I accompany her as she gets her groceries, and I helped put her groceries in the truck.
All while we're in the truck and we go to each place that she needs to go, and every time she does this: my grandmother insists that she place her hand on my knee every time we're in the truck. She rubs my knee excessively, then scratches it, tickles it, rests her hand on it, and pats it. When she does that, I want to scream at her, and I want to push her hand off, but I don't. So in my head, I laugh at the situation but scream a little inside, because if anyone else saw my grandmother rubbing my knee for 20 minutes, as she does, then they would see my eyes bulging and my mouth twisted.
She hands me this manila envelope that has two pieces of paper inside. One is a colored picture of strawberries, and the other one is a picture of a daughter and her mom that was colored. Grandma had colored these for me, and said: "I can't draw or paint like you, but I can color. And I want you to have these. That picture is supposed to be me and you." I hugged her and said 'thank you', and it's one of the sweetest gestures and gifts I've ever got. When my grandma and I are together as I help her and assist her in her doctor's appointments and shopping, I wonder if people see a young person helping an older person, and wonder if that's my job. Or I wonder if people see a young person that also needs help.
What they do not see is the 27 year long relationship I have had with my grandmother. She raised me, kept me warm by the wood stove in the winter, and took care of me when I was sick--particularly those two weeks when I had a sore throat, and she cured me with rice and tea. Little did I know she was already feeding me vegan at 11 years old. Actually, she is the reason I was able to eat vegan when I first started, because she was picking vegetables out of her garden and making homemade vegan biscuits every night for years. For 14 years, I got on and off the bus at her house and she would have tea and cooked vegetables and biscuits waiting for me to eat.
That's what people do not see. I sometimes forget about those moments, which is why I don't push her wiley hand off of my knee or growl at her that I can't stand her hand on my knee. Instead, I laugh in my head.