July 22, 2024
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July 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Sweet Now, Sweet Later. Cranky Now. Uh Oh.

My grandmother, my dad’s mom, was quite the lady. She always dressed perfectly. She had amazing jewelry. She never washed her own hair. She loved her martinis with two olives and she loved playing cards with her friends at “the club.” She and my grandfather would winter in Aruba and summer on their boat at Gerritsen Beach. They loved to dance and go to shows. They had lots of friends who would join them for dinner. My grandfather worked very hard to become successful; no education, survivor of the Great Depression, he built himself up and supported his family and my grandmother’s family. Why am I telling you all of this? Because, like me, my grandmother had no editing mechanism (I had to get this endearing quality from someone, right? Usually it is from the father’s side of the family…just saying).

Grandma Sylvia was quite the character. If you were fat, she told you. If you were an idiot, she told you. These qualities got worse as she got older. Though I did love her, especially because she gave me my dad (who, for the record, is nothing like his mom), we tended to butt heads a lot.

One of my greatest accomplishments was convincing Grandma to take us to Israel for Sukkot.

She had never been and I was still single, so we thought it would be a good time to go. After months of meeting her for lunch, she finally agreed. The trip was amazing. We had an awesome tour guide who took us everywhere and when we held the second day of Yom Tov, Rafi, the tour guide, took Grandma everywhere else. It was perfect. Except for the fact that we shared a room and we kept snapping at each other. Which just goes to show two things: (1) No good deed goes

unpunished, and (2) you can’t put two women who speak their mind in the same room for more than a few hours. It doesn’t end well. (Okay, that was poetic license, it wasn’t really that bad…)

Though I didn’t meet my husband there (because I had met him 10 years earlier and just didn’t know it yet), I was happy that Grandma got to see Israel and I got to fly business class (should’ve enjoyed that a bit more…oh well.. maybe with husband #2).

In any event, Grandma’s editing mechanism, or lack thereof, got worse as she got older. Yes, I saw my future. Yes, I am in big trouble. Those folks at the nursing home are going to stick me in a corner room and stick my meal tray under the door like they do with the lions. No one is going to be coming near me. Who would blame them. People don’t like cranky old people, or cranky middle­aged people, for that matter. People like when you are sweet and mild mannered, when you extend lots of compliments and make people feel good about themselves. This brings me to Blanche.

Many of us in this community know Blanche. She lived here for a few years, but about five years ago she moved into Daughters of Miriam. Unfortunately, Blanche doesn’t really know where she is or who most people are. I had not seen her in a few years because it made me sad that she looked frustrated when she wanted to remember me, but couldn’t. When I saw her a few weeks ago, it was like we were meeting for the first time. But what I learned is that the way you are, your disposition, your nature, that never changes, even with Alzheimer’s. Blanche is still the sweetest, most adorable lady. Her smile lights up a room and everything out of her mouth is positive and encouraging. Whatever she spoke about, her parents, her job that she still thinks she has, her neighbors, it was all positive, positive, positive. And all I could think (because it is all about me) is: Holy cow, I am in so much trouble. When I have no editing mechanism and no idea who I am, there are going to be a lot of verbally abused folks around me and it is not going to be pretty.

Is it too late to change? Is it too late to become a positive person? Should I just accept my fate of my beautiful boys locking me up and throwing away the key? Will 2016 be the year that I become better? Probably not, but that is okay because I am hoping that they will just keep feeding me and then I won’t be able to say anything insulting. Yes, that is the plan. I will weigh 600 pounds, be confined to a couch, but everyone will think I am a sweet old lady. Okay, I feel better now.

Banji Ganchrow, when on the right medication, can be a very positive person. Unless she doesn’t like you and then it doesn’t really matter what she is on.

By Banji Latkin Ganchrow

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