A Tale of Two Pawpaws

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  July 14, 2013 — 9 Comments

This is my Pawpaw Hamrick. He’s been married to my Grandma Sandy since they were teenagers and my mom is the fifth of their six children (five girls, one boy).

Somewhere in the midst of raising teenagers my Pawpaw started to get a tingling in his toes. Pins and needles and numbness. My Aunt Julie drove him to the doctor’s appointment that would change his life. He would soon lose the use of his legs. I don’t think they really knew why. What happened next is legend in our family-he and Grandma went out for ice cream and came home laughing. It would all be okay.

And it was okay. They kept on keeping on. They’ve since lost nearly everything they owned twice-once to fire and once to flood. He got really sick the summer that I got married and we thought we might lose him. It was during that hospital stay that doctors told him they thought they knew what had attacked his nerves all those years before-Guillain-Barre syndrome. He got off the ventilator and came home from the hospital and has had a really rich and full four years (and a new great-grandchild every year, I might add). But now he’s sick again. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in April and as pre-treatment assessments dragged on his body started to fail. Saturday his heart stopped but they brought him back. He’s in the ICU now and on a vent again and we’re really not sure what’s going to happen. All this to say, please keep him in your thoughts.

Now this is my Pawpaw Gulley. He was married to my Nanny for 60 years and my dad is their only child.

After my Nanny passed he remarried and moved to Amarillo, Texas. Texas is kind of a big state so that’s actually really far away from South Louisiana. We missed him terribly but he was so happy out there that we couldn’t help but be happy for him. But after eight wonderful years it was time for him to come home. His new apartment in the senior community near my parents won’t be ready until the first of the month and he needed someplace to stay in the meantime. My parents’ house would require him to climb stairs every day, and although he’s the healthiest 90 year old I’ve ever seen they worried about him being there alone while they were at work all day. So I offered my house, and here he is! I’ve never had anyone stay with me for more than a couple of nights before so I was a bit nervous, but even though he just arrived yesterday I already feel like things are going to go great! He likes to hang out with Jack, watch Rangers games on the TV I set up in his room, read western novels on his Kindle, etc. He’s met Jack once before and seen him plenty on Facetime but it is still so special for them to get to spend this time together.

Since my sister and I are their only grandchildren we inherited a lot of stuff when Pawpaw moved out of his old house. My Nanny bought this bedroom set as soon as she finished high school. It’s actually Shannon’s now but since she doesn’t have room for it I keep it here. I rearranged the furniture in here to make things more comfortable for Pawpaw and I actually really like the way it is now. There’s an old TV just to the left of this photo.

After asking a couple of friends for suggestions I put a couple things in here to help Pawpaw make himself at home. I printed out a list of the channels available on that TV and also printed out another page with instructions for using our alarm system and our cell phone numbers, address, and nearest cross street in case of an emergency. I also brought in a lamp from another room, a cute old-fashioned clock I found at Target, and a small flashlight from the Target dollar spot. Pawpaw doesn’t do much writing these days, his hands are rather unsteady, but I gave him a pen and paper just in case.

I cleared all my junk out of the armoire and put out two pictures I already had of Nanny and Pawpaw when they were young. Did I mention that their names are Charlotte and Jack?

The downstairs bath is attached to this room and I added a nonslip mat, a cute bath rug I’ll show you tomorrow, and just last night I ordered this shower grab bar off of Amazon after I started worrying about Pawpaw getting in and out of the tub safely.

I mentioned last week that our grandparents have had drama on both sides of the family. In addition to my two Pawpaws both going through major upheavals Nick’s Grandpa Sam moved into a nursing home last week (here’s an interesting article about Grandpa Sam’s career as a musician and comedian in New Orleans). Luckily Nick’s Abuela on the other side of the family seems to be doing well lately-she and her daughter are even moving from Connecticut to Austin this year and we’re excited to have them closer (though we’ll miss the excuse to travel to what is essentially an outer suburb of NYC). Nick and I are so lucky to have so many of our grandparents still around. I hope we have many years left with them so that Jack can get to know them the way I got to know my Great-Grandma Cookie. Isn’t family wonderful?

I hope you all had an amazing weekend, and thanks for reading!


Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap


9 responses to A Tale of Two Pawpaws

  1. Janet (Country Mouse) July 15, 2013 at 11:27 am

    I didn’t know the details of what was going on with your Paw Paw Hamrick until now, just bits and pieces that I picked up on facebook. He is my Uncle Jerry…married to my Dad’s youngest sister, the beautiful Aunt Sandy. My thoughts and prayers are with him and the whole Hamrick family. Uncle Jerry has always made me laugh. I remember him diving into the pool just a few minutes before your Aunt Karen’s wedding was to begin. When all of the women fussed at him, he said simply. “I was hot.” He was out of the pool and the wedding started on time.

    Of course I don’t know your other Paw Paw, but I wish him well and he too will be in my prayers.

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap July 17, 2013 at 8:28 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words. He actually has made some small improvements but the future is still very unsure. It’s so nice to know that he’s in your thoughts.

  2. Such a beautiful poignant tribute to your grandparents - you are a very special person, Charlotte!

  3. Your Pawpaw is my brother, My sister Jeanette an her husband went to see him over the fourth of July, but I was not able to go with them, I really wanted to go. so when I saw this beautiful tribute I started to cry, you gave a picture of my brother, and made me feel better—-Thanks
    Great aunt Mary

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap July 29, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Awwww, Aunt Mary. I’m so glad it brought you comfort. Please do keep in touch.

  4. Just catching up on old blog posts :) I saw Aunt Aida (Abuela to you and Nick) on Saturday and she’s the same tough cookie as always! She and Katina are very excited to move to Texas - Aunt Aida was raving on what a sweet baby Jack is. I also just have to say I absolutely ADORE the picture of Jack and your PawPaw!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap July 31, 2013 at 7:17 pm

      Thank you, I love that picture too! And we are so excited to have Aunt Kathy and Abuela living a little closer. I just love them!

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    [...] Pawpaw Hamrick passed away yesterday. I shared with y’all recently about how he’d been ill. I think after a lifetime of overcoming the odds-getting [...]

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