March 2nd, 2012


My favorite RSVP

The wedding invitations went out two weeks ago, and the RSVPs have been steadily coming in. I think we're up to 100 confirmed guests now. Many more to go.

Last night, though, I got the call about one that, as far as I'm concerned, makes me the happiest.

My mom called to tell me she was making reservations for my Uncle Bob's flights. She had originally thought to surprise me with this upon his arrival, but she later figured that I'd be so stressed out that week that I wouldn't be able to process it. Plus, my dad is TERRIBLE at keeping secrets.

I couldn't believe it.

My uncle has been taking care of my grandmother for the last eight years or so. She moved in with him when it was clear she could no longer take care of herself.

Three or four years ago, when it became clear that she couldn't be left unattended, he found a home health agent who comes every day when he's at work to stay with her. But, that means that he still has to be around all the time. The social services agency that provides the home health agent did all sorts of visits and assessments and stuff, and they made it very clear that the services would be available only if it was demonstrated that my grandmother was taken care of in the times the agency was not there. So that essentially meant that my uncle had to be around at night, on the weekends, and on any days off he might have. I don't think he's had an actual day away from taking care of my grandmother in years.

Of course, there have been all sorts of suggestions to put my grandmother in a facility that could take care of her round the clock. But my uncle steadfastly refuses to do so. In part because my grandfather died in a nursing home, and in part because I think he thinks that she'd not be as well cared for in a nursing home. So my mother and my aunt have been there to support my uncle, and my mother has a policy of ALWAYS being available to talk to him if he needs her.

When Graham and I first got engaged, I said a terrible, terrible thing. I said, "I hope my grandmother dies before the wedding." I sort of meant it. She's been in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's for well over three years now, and I don't think she has a clue what anything is anymore. My grandmother may be alive, but that woman really isn't my grandmother. And in part, we've been waiting for her to die for a year and a half now. Maybe even longer. My uncle called me at some point in 2010 to ask me to start writing an obituary. In December, my grandmother went into the hospital with blood clots. She's been gradually losing weight because she doesn't really remember how to eat anymore. It's a horrible, horrible deterioration that has taken its toll on her and on the people who love her.

But when I said that terrible thing, I meant it more for my uncle than for my grandmother. I really, really wanted him to be at my wedding. I wanted it for him and my mother and the rest of my family as much as I did for myself. I knew that he would really want to be there, to see his first niece get married. I knew that even though I haven't actually seen him in well over 20 years, his absence would be acutely felt by the rest of my family. I knew that he's been working so hard to go to work and then come home to more work for all these years that he could desperately, desperately use some time off for something purely happy.

My grandmother hasn't yet died. As far as I know, she's still steadily declining in that robustly healthy way she has been for the last eight years. But my uncle, under gentle pressure from my mother and my aunt, made inquiries into arranging for care for my grandmother. And the social services agency, who now know my uncle very, very well, was overjoyed that he was looking to take time off. So arrangements have been made for people to come to the house round the clock for a full week. And my uncle will come to Houston on the Wednesday before my wedding, and he'll leave the Wednesday after.

And while he's here, he won't have to take care of anyone.

He told my mother that he's looking most forward to just taking a long walk at the ranch. I said that there are many dogs who will be delighted to accompanying him, to show him around.

My ENTIRE family will be at my wedding. All three of my father's siblings. All three of my mother's siblings. All of their children. All of their children's children. My great aunts on my father's side. Most of their children. Most of their children's children. I don't know if this has ever happened before. I didn't think it was possible when I sent out the invitations.

Obviously, my grandmother won't be there, but she hasn't been there for a very long time. It makes me very sad, but I'm so happy that my uncle is going to be able to take time off and come. I will make sure to reserve a dance especially for him.