My grandma has been really sick lately, and she hasn't been remembering much. We went to visit her over Christmas, and at one point she grabbed my arm with her mittened hand and said, softly, "I just want to know where we are. What year is it, and are we alive or are we dead? Hank is here, and he hasn't been here for..." she trailed off. Her husband, my grandfather, hadn't been there for six years. She didn't recognize any of us, and we struggled to connect with her in any meaningful way.
"Would you like us to sing a song, Grandma?"
Okay, she nodded, slowly. We got out some Christmas song books and all gathered around the tiny kitchen my grandpa built so many years ago to sing Silent Night and a couple of the other common ones. Even my aunt and uncle, who were raised Catholic but whom I suspect hadn't attended church in decades, even they sang.
The words and tune formed on her mouth without her realizing.
These familiar hymns could bring her back, in a small way, to times when she was herself. Times when she knew who and where she was. When she got her hair permed and went to mass and made borscht and pierogi. When she yelled at us for leaving the screen door open or teasing the dog or tracking mud into the house.
We just found out that her condition has worsened. She has fluid in her lungs and maybe even a small stroke. They say it is probably unwise to admit her to the hospital permanently, though, because there is a risk of infection from the other patients. If possible, they will try to treat her symptoms at the hospital and then let her go back to rest at home. It doesn't really look good though. My mom is so sad and she asked us all to pray for her.
I don't feel like I have any faith for praying, even though I really want to. Now, more than any other time, I really want to.