Big Turkey! – Moments in Caregiving

Some moments in caregiving linger on and bring a smile to one’s face long after they happen.

From the first moment he saw her, Rodger was head over in heels in love with baby Ava. When he found out we would be going to my daughter’s house each morning after the birth of her first child, he was up and ready to go before sunrise every day.

“What time do we go?” he asked as soon as I wandered into the kitchen and reached, bleary eyed, for a tea bag and my microwaveable cup.

“Not for while yet. You have to have breakfast and take your medication. I need to take a shower and get dressed. And besides, the new mom and dad need time to get going in the morning too.”

“They need us. We have to go.”

Knowing he would pace and worry until we got there, I sipped my tea on the way to my room, showered as fast as I could and pulled on a sweat suit. My hair was hopeless. I put it in a pony tail and grabbed a baseball cap to cover it. Then I packed a bag with his medications, a blood pressure monitor, thermometer, stethoscope, his nebulizer, band-aids, Depends, a change of clothes, and some food I knew he would eat. Just like I used to pack a diaper bag for my daughter when she was a baby and she would now do for her child.

As soon as we arrived he went straight for the baby who was nestled quite contentedly in the arms of her other Grandmother.

“I’ll hold her. I know what to do,” he said, his tone of voice a clear indication he disapproved of her technique. Fortunately, my daughter’s mother-in-law was amused rather than offended and helped get baby and Great-grandfather settled comfortably in the overstuffed chair he preferred.


And so it went. If the baby wasn’t being fed or changed, he wanted to hold her and he wasn’t shy about chastising any of us for taking too long to hand her over. Often I would look over and see her deep blue eyes staring into his faded brown ones and thank God they had this time together. Was she transferring innocence to him as he silently shared his wisdom with her? I like to think so.

Lots of pictures were taken by proud parents and grandparents, of course.

One day, not long after our help was no longer needed, I gave Rodger one of the photos. In it, he was sitting in that overstuffed chair holding Ava who was wrapped in a beautiful pink blanket. I knew he missed her and waited to see him light up when he saw her. He stared at it for a few seconds, a puzzled look on his face and said, “That’s me.”

“Yes, that’s you.” I answered.

He looked at for another few seconds before the smile I was hoping for appeared. He tapped the picture and pointed to the baby and announced, “Big Turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!”

The proud new mama wasn’t thrilled to think anyone could mistake her baby for a turkey but now that time has passed and Old Grampy, as Ava now calls him, is no longer with us, it’s one of the most precious memories we have of him and the little girl he loved so much.

As you can see, Ava looks nothing like a turkey.

Ava Dancing Queen

If you have an amusing story about a moment in caregiving, please share it here. I’d love to read it.

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