Not fade away

My grandmother is 85. She has all her own teeth, and does not use Miss Clairol to keep her hair brown. She wears a hearing aid, but no glasses. She is definitely all there mentally.
She has Parkinson’s, and is now confined to a wheelchair. She lives in a private room in a nursing home in Ontario. When she needs to pee, she has to ring her bell for help. Geographically, I am her closest relative – and I live more than an hour away by car.
Yesterday, I accompanied her to a liver specialist to try to get to the bottom of her most recent affliction, jaundice. Because of the weakness in her legs and other factors, it is next to impossible to get her anywhere by car, so we had to rely on an ambulance to get her to and from the doctor’s office. Since budget cuts have reduced the number of ambulances serving the area, non-emergency transports like my grandmother’s are the lowest priority, and we waited almost two hours for some one to bring us home after the appointment.
The doctor has recommended a CT scan and an ERCP, which means we’ll have to get her to and from the Civic Hospital in Ottawa, an hour away.
My grandmother is very tired. It’s all she can talk about. She was tired before we started on our grand tour yesterday. By the time the doctor’s appointment was over, she was exhausted. By the time the ambulance finally arrived to bring us home, she was starting to scare me. I had visions of myself having to explain to my dad that… well, you know.
Every time she closed her eyes, I got nervous. I managed to resist the urge to poke her, but I found myself reliving those scary moments as a new mother, watching the chest for breathing, just to reassure yourself that you haven’t inadvertently killed some one.
My grandmother, who taught me to swim and made almond shortbread crescents every Christmas, is tired and weak and scared.
I still remember the way those almond cookies melted in my mouth.