Traditionally, MIL-Woman, being the Daughter-In-Law #1 of the family, has taken care of him and Grandma (when Grandma was still alive). But MIL-Woman has a business venture going on in Taiwan and can't do it anymore.
Uncle-2 and Aunt-2 now have the responsibility to take Grandpa when they go back. The problem is, the 2's have to run back and forth between Taiwan and here. While they're here, there's no one in Taiwan to watch Grandpa, so all three of them have to come back together. The 2's don't stay with us, they have their own home. Grandpa stays with us.
So, now. Guess who the Granddaughter-In-Law #1 is?
Oh, go ahead.
Take. A. Wild. Blind. Stab. In. The. Dark.
At least the family understands that I have to work. Evenings and weekends are Husband Guy's and my responsibility. I told Husband Guy that I can't do it myself, but he has a Gold Master Candidate deadline coming up, he's had to work super late every night as well as weekends. This will go on until the thing ships. So, basically, I am flying solo for the time being.
It's a little awkward for me because ever since Grandpa's stroke (over 10 years ago), his speech is a bit slurred now. He also has a heavy Taiwanese, 閩南 accent that I don't always understand. And he's hard of hearing, so you have to enunciate, speak LOUD and towards his right ear... the one with the hearing aid that sometimes slips and disconnects. It's better for the family's kids because they're used to the way he talks, so they understand him. I didn't grow up with him. Sometimes, I just have no idea what he's saying. I just have to guess and ask him if that's what he wants. And it goes trial and error like that until I get it.
So far, I've been managing well. There haven't been too many important things that I can't understand.
Grandpa hates it here. It's way too quiet for him. And if he wants to go somewhere, someone has to drive him. As mild as it is in Vancouver, it's still cold compared to Taiwan. There's a lot more hustle and bustle in Taiwan. Their condo is right in the heart of a downtown area... well, it's The Heart of Downtown everywhere unless you're up a 檳榔 tree*. He can walk downstairs and there would be food places, shops and everything right there. All he can do here is nap, read the newspaper and watch TV... which he can do in Taiwan.
He's also well known there. He was a World and Olympic (gold medal to prove it) champion weightlifter, then a coach, IWF International Category I Referee, Executive Board Member of the Asian Weightlifting Federation, etc. He's used to everyone knowing him and greeting him. It's understandable that he hates the anonymity and lack of freedom here.
The second day after he came back, he asked the 2's to book him a flight back. They're not going back for another 3 weeks. Grandpa has been insisting that he can go back by himself. They've been trying to convince him that it's not a good idea and he just gets angry. Well, since his stroke, he's had problems with his legs too. He's fallen a few times. Not recently, thank goodness, but it's a huge concern because of the typical narrow, steep, rickety architecture of stairs that are all the rage in Taiwan. =P
He refuses to use a cane. He has one. A very nice sturdy cherry oak(?), gold trim one. He just carries it along or drags it behind him. It was funny at first, but the family is frustrated that he won't use it. It's so true that the higher you are, the harder you fall. He's incapable of admitting age and defeat.
I'm doing my best to talk to him and keep him company. I told him about the Olympics 2010 bid and how I was going to vote 'YES' to have it here. That got him talking a little about his heyday in the Olympics and for a moment, he was happy.
He's also at an age where he's starting to get paranoid about stuff. When he starts talking to me about things like that, what can I do except be sympathetic? I can't tell him he's wrong because y'know what? He has good reason to be paranoid, IMHO. But I also can't, shouldn't and won't feed the paranoia.
When he gets into one of his moods, he'll rant to me about certain things. There will be 2 - 4 topics that he'll go around on. He'll switch from one to another to another and back to the other and the other... I don't know if it's good for him to do that, but I don't know what to do about it. It's not that I'm bored listening to it. Not at all. If it helps, I'm happy to just listen for him. It's just that I don't know whether it's a good/therapeutic thing. Should I let him keep talking to get it all out? Or is it just reinforcing his paranoia? In which case, I should try to change the subject to something else. I don't know what to do.
But what else can I talk to him about? It's really hard to have a decent conversation with someone you really, truly, honestly have NOTHING in common with and the only things you do have in common (the family and Grandma) are things you don't really want to bring up.
Well, at least he trusts me to tell me things. And some of the things he tells me, I kinda feel like I shouldn't be hearing. But *shrug*.
Just... ... ... one day at a time.
* - 檳榔 (bing1 lang2) is the Areca seed or the betel nut (pronounced "beetle nut"//thanks, wintersweet!), which is the dried ripe seed of the Areca catechu L. (Fam. Palmae if you're interested). Originally, in Chinese medicine, it's used to remove undigested food and to promote the flow of Qi. It also activates circulation of vital energy and relieve dyspepsia: for dyspepsia with abdominal distension and constipation, and dysentery with tenesmus.
However, it's now almost a tobacco-like narcotic-ish thing that is the semi-latest addiction craze in Taiwan. You chew on this pale green or brown seed thing, slightly smaller than a ping-pong ball and when you're finished, it's bright bloody red. Then you spit it out. It's a very unnerving thing to watch someone spitting it out. It looks like they're puking up a vital organ or two. Anyway, Areca seeds are sold in little booths everywhere that employ 檳榔西施 Hoochie Tab Girl clerks wearing dental floss.