Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 at 10:52 am | Sandrahutcheson | Leave a Comment | Living authentically Looks great
This is my St. Augustine Record column for December 28, 2014. You can also link to it here.
There are things — and sometimes even people — in this world that can get used up and messed up to the point of being a total loss. You can’t rehabilitate them.
Years ago, my in-laws came home from a nine-day trip to find that my sister-in-law’s cat had been locked in their custom conversion van the whole time. The cat, weak and dehydrated, was ultimately okay, but they couldn’t give that van away. That’s the kind of totaled I’m talking about.
A piece of chewing gum is another example. Once it’s used up, all you can do is throw it out, swallow it or stick it to the underside of a table in McDonald’s.
A box of hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts, once cooled, will never be the same. Rehabilitation is simply impossible.
My grandfather is nearly 92. Earlier this month, he suffered a heart attack, a stroke and a severe concussion when he fell and planted his forehead into a wall.
His doctor calls him “rehabable.”
I like that word. It means there’s still hope.
Granddad is part of the generation that holds out hope for things that should be tossed out. The evidence is all over his house — in a pencil worn down to a one-inch nub that still has a few scribbles left in it, in a pair of holey pajamas with one more night’s sleep in them. It’s in his favorite chair, an orange corduroy lounger that may or may not be held together in some places with duct tape.
After a few days in the hospital, he moved to an assisted living facility. We took his favorite chair and other items from his home to his new room.
The saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” isn’t exactly true. He’s weaker, and his memory flicks on and off like a lightning bug on a summer night.
What he recalls best is the fact he’s not at home. And it’s what he hopes for. “I just want to get out of here and go home,” he says, almost every hour.
Yet, I’m not so sure he’s talking about a brick house in Morrow, Ga. In fact, I’m fairly certain that’s not the home he’s longing for.
And as much as I love the inherent hope of the word “rehabable,” I’m no longer convinced that getting back to the way he was before is really in Granddad’s best interest.
I don’t mean he’s used up, worn out and totaled. That suggests depletion. His strength isn’t really gone. It’s all been transferred to us — his children, grandchildren, and even great-grandkids. And although his memory is failing, we will remember it all.
Granddad grew up in a place called Texas Valley, in the corner of northeast Georgia. Texas Valley people have some peculiar phrases. For instance, someone who’s sick is said to be “puny.” An extremely thin person might get called “wormy.” When you’re tired, you’re “give out.” Complete fatigue is being “plumb give out.”
Give out is exhaustion from doing your best, from giving everything you’ve got. It’s something to be proud of. Granddad’s not totaled, and he’s not used up. He’s just plumb give out.
I know I’ll be a total wreck when it happens, but I hope he gets to go home soon.
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