We moved on from Indiana, through Illinois, to Missouri. After a beautiful drive by the Mississippi River, we arrived in St. Louis.
What little we saw of downtown St. Louis was quite nice. There were even pull-in parking spaces downtown! They had meters, but you didn’t have to parallel park.
We didn’t stay at the Marriott, but we did walk through the lobby. The hotel is in the renovated Union Station, and the lobby is absolutely breathtaking. That train station is where the famous Dewey Defeats Truman photo was taken.
Then we went to the Arch.
We climbed in a car on the tram. It’s really more of a pod.
The ride up is short and the tram makes lots of clicking noises as it rises. Once we arrived at the top, we could look out over St. Louis
and the Mississippi River, which was over the docks and sidewalk.
The top of the Arch is 630 feet above the ground.
The windows are small, and the floor is, of course, arched.
Then we drove through the Ozarks to Arkansas to look for the graves of relatives, which we found.
And then we came home.
We drove from Pennsylvania to Ohio and saw more Amish in Ohio than in Pennsylvania.
We also saw dead groundhogs on the side of the road. They must be the armadillos of Ohio. Although I did manage to see a live one on the side of the road, as well. Can’t often say that about armadillos!
Our only real stop in Ohio was Hopewell Mounds. We toured Mound City
and learned about the various artifacts that had been found in the mounds. These included items made of materials from the Gulf Coast, Lake Superior and Wyoming. The trade network the Hopewell people established was extensive.
Then we drove on to Indiana for one reason only – James Dean’s gravesite.
I love James Dean, and this site has been on my list of things to see for quite some time. It was a highlight. Now I need to see the site where he died.
I haven't written here in quite some time, and now I've chosen to write a difficult post.
My grandmother is not doing well.
Short though that sentence is, it is very hard to write. I hate admitting that she's not herself anymore. Or, rather, she's herself as if visiting from an alternate reality. Sometimes.
For those of you who haven't met my grandmother, let me introduce you to her. She is known by many names - Carrie, Verda, Nanny, Meemee. To me she is Nana. But she is more than that. She is the woman I consider my grandmother. She is not related to me by blood, but I am more like her than I am some of my blood relatives.
When I was born, I had only one living biological grandparent - my mother's mother. She died before I turned one.
Nana was a friend of my father's family. Nana and her husband (Papaw) never had any children of their own, but they helped raise nineteen children, including me. When my parents moved to the farm, Nana and Papaw sold their home and moved to the farm with us.
Papaw died when I was six, and Daddy died two years later. For a very long time, it's been me and Mom and Nana. We're a family.
Nana took me to church. Nana taught me how to make hot chocolate and fried toast. Nana taught me how to pay bills.
Three weeks ago, she had an episode. She couldn't find her bedroom and didn't know where she was. I thought, because she has COPD
, that she needed oxygen from her tank. We hooked the tube under her nose, and she was back to her normal self in about forty-five minutes.
When I came home from work that day, Mom said Nana got mad at her at lunchtime for not bringing food for the men working on the house. There were no men working on the house. Only Nana saw them and even called one of them by name.
The next day was worse.
The next day she seemed fine, but on the advice of her doctor, we took her to the emergency room at Methodist Hospital.
She was admitted and spent a week in the hospital getting test after expensive test run with no real diagnostic result. One doctor said TIAs
, one said dementia
, one said seizures
Mom and I believe TIAs.
Nana is now home. She is not better. The arthritis, sciatica and pinched nerves in her back, hips and leg - which she has had for years and months, respectively - is worse. The itch she has over her entire body - which she has had for more than a year - is worse than ever causing her to scratch and bleed almost constantly.
And the hallucinations and delirium and confusion continue. She still sometimes cannot find her room. She still sometimes sees people in the house. She tells me stories about riding on the railroad and helping to make beds on the train cars. She thinks this happened. And she thinks this happened recently.
I treat her comments as if they're true, unless I need to make a correction.
Her sense of humor is still there. Her mischievous smile. A bit of the sparkle has left her eyes though, and she knows something is wrong.
She cannot be left alone.
I wish I could help her. I wish there was something I could do. She's my Nana. I love her.
My last post described my grandmother's failing health.
Not long after I wrote that post, she passed away. I wish I could say she went to sleep and died peacefully.
She did not.
She went downhill very quickly. Plummeted is a better description.
Tuesday, the day after Presidents' Day, she was placed on hospice
for her COPD
. They were hoping that they would have her condition and medications stabilized at the end of the 90-day hospice period.
Friday morning she ate a full breakfast. Friday afternoon her pastor
stopped by for a brief visit. Friday night, she was bedridden and unable to walk.
Mom and I slept in the study with Nana in a trundle bed on the floor. It was the longest night of my life.
Saturday we got her in a nursing home. The hospice nurse tried arranging 24-hour care for her, but it was a weekend. She had difficulty finding people to work.
On Sunday, a number of friends and family came by the nursing home to see her. She was unconscious and in a coma. The only medications she was receiving were to maintain her comfort.
Sunday night, after Mom and I returned home, her nephew called us and told us she had passed. It was about 11:30 p.m.
Earlier in February, Nana had told Mom that she had only 27 days left. She died on February 27, twenty-eight years and six days after her husband.
Nana's funeral was held March 2 at the Second Baptist Church in Angleton.
We had a slideshow of pictures
playing during the viewing and asked people in attendance to speak, if they wanted, during the funeral.
Several friends and family members spoke. They talked about Nana's unselfish spirit, her smile, her loving heart, and her spiritual legacy.
I read part of a story I wrote
. Several years ago, I wrote a novel based upon incidents Nana told me about her childhood. While the story is fiction, the idea for it – Nana's first visit to a movie theater – is true.
Although there were more than a hundred people in attendance (we ran out of programs!), some were unable to come. I had some requests from people to read the story, so I thought I would post it here.
The set-up is simple. Mama has Alverda (that's Nana!) and Alverda's brother Ellery to go into town to retrieve another brother, Leard, from the movie theater.
A Powerful Picture
by Sara K Joiner
When Mama pulled up in front of the theater, Alverda gazed in awe at the white building. What went on behind those doors? she wondered.
“Alverda, run inside and get Leard,” Mama told her.
Her mouth dropped open. She was going to find out! She was actually going to learn what went on behind those doors!
“Come right back out,” Mama instructed.
“Yes, ma’am,” Alverda answered and was out the door of the pickup truck quick as a minute.
She strutted up to the doors of the theater her thumbs hooked under the straps of her overalls.
“Excuse me,” the man who sold the tickets said. “Where are you going?”
“My mama told me I have to get my brother,” Alverda explained. “He’s inside at the picture show. He’s got to go home and do his chores.”
“I reckon it’s all right if you go in there, but make sure you come right back out, ya hear?” he said.
“Yessir,” Alverda replied.
When Alverda opened the doors, she walked into the theater’s lobby.
The buttery popcorn smelled delicious. Alverda wished she had some money to buy herself a Coke.
“Hello, little girl,” a woman behind the popcorn and soda booth said.
“I’m not a little girl,” Alverda insisted.
“Of course you’re not,” she said. “Do you want a Coke?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Alverda answered. “Only I don’t have any money.”
“Honey, no one has any money,” she said with a sigh. “Let me get you a Coke anyway.”
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