I got to thinking today about old people – specifically my grandparents shortly before they died. I had nothing but strange interactions with previously perfectly lovely people. Here’s my evidence:

Grandmother number one had a cancer reoccurance when I was in my last year of vet school. She promptly announced that she refused to die until she made sure I graduated. I wasn’t told about this until close to graduation. I only found out then because I had to get an official dispensation from the school to videotape the ceremony. There was an official video dude but she wasn’t going to live long enough to get the official video and boy she was going to be PISSED if she didn’t get to see the video. So I was back home a few days after graduation and visited her in the nursing home. Now she had all her marbles but wasn’t able to walk anymore. That didn’t phase the dancing guy who kept coming to her room in the middle of the night and tap dancing for her. She was not amused. He came in while we were visiting and she told him off and rang the nurses station to have him dragged off. He also had a tendancy to hold out his empty hands to her and say solemnly, “HE told me to hold this.” Since my schizophrenic uncle also visited regularly it gave rise to speculation that perhaps they were talking and sharing the invisible object. My family’s sentimental like that.

My brother and I finished our visit and headed down the hall. Coming towards us was a tiny old lady shuffling down the hall while peering at the floor and muttering. She was in the middle of the hall. So when we got close to her my brother passed to her left and I went right. The itty bitty harmless ancient old thing then hauled off and punched me in the chest. She had one hell of a right hook, let me tell you. I thought my brother was going to pee himself as she continued to shuffle down the hall. I have no idea why she hit me. She never even looked at me and usually people need to know me better before they get violent.

Grandmother number 2 took ill and was in the hospital. I happened to be home from out of town that weekend so I went to visit her. She freaked out! She was convinced that she was dying and that I’d been called in from out of state to be at her deathbed and no one would tell her the truth. No amount of telling her the real reason I was in town would convince her that she hadn’t spawned a lying pack of demons who were concealing the true nature of her impending doom from her. I was finally banned from the hospital by my mother in order to call grandma down. I’d never before been considered a harbinger of death. For the record, she lived several years after that incident.

My grandfather had a very rapid onset of dementia. He helped me pack to go to vet school but by that Christmas he was no longer able to talk. So I’m sitting across from him at the Christmas Eve dinner table when he looks at me and says clear as a bell, “Is Jill coming home for Christmas?”. This caused shock and awe all around and my dad said to him, “Dad, that’s Heather.” He shot an annoyed glance at my dad and repeated the question to me. Again my dad answered that I was Heather – not Jill. At this my grandfather decided that he was surrounded by morons and stared straight at me. “IS. YOUR. COUSIN. JILL. COMING. HOME. FOR. CHRISTMAS?”. I said no and he nodded and then never spoke another sentence again. Everyone thought that it was the dementia but personally I think he decided that we weren’t worth the effort.