The apartment that Grandma and Grandpa John shared - they hadn't been there long. John had been in and out of the hospital for more than a month, and this new apartment was part of the assisted living section of the Lodge. They moved in less than a month prior to his passing partially due to John's medical needs, and also to help my grandmother with her medicines. Before that move, they'd lived in a 2 bedroom apartment within the independent living area of the facility. That said, they'd already done quite a bit of downsizing to go from the 2 bedroom down to the 1. But now we were getting my grandma into a studio-sized apartment closer to her friends, the dining room, and everything she gets involved with. She didn't want to stay in the 1 bedroom apartment anymore as it had only held the bad memories from when John got sick. The Lodge had a studio available for her to take, and would need a few days to prepare it - painting, having the carpets cleaned, general cleaning, etc.
In the meantime, we all joined forces and went through the existing apartment to purge John's belongs, some of grandma's belongings, and prepare for her move. This was an interesting time for me - I was able to visit with John's kids (I really like them - they are fun folks!), learn more of my grandfather's (grandma's first husband, and my biological grandfather) time in the Army during World War II (not something he ever talked about to anyone), and spend time with my grandmother... I hadn't seen her for a little over a year. There were some rough moments, but mostly things were upbeat... and I think we all helped each other work through some of the emotions.
Aside from the purging of the apartment, we got out to do some other things. We went to lunch a couple of times, dinner too. Mom and I braved the midday Phoenix heat one afternoon to try to find grandma a tower-type bookshelf at the area thrift stores, with no success. I learned to go out in the mornings, if I had to, as the temperatures were *only* in the low-90's and it was far more comfortable.
When we stayed in, we visited. We played 'high stakes' bingo one night where Mom, Grandma and I cleaned house, walking away with $10.50 between the 3 of us (pretty good, when the normal bingo games net you a quarter for each win). 😃 Once my cousin arrived from Texas, she and I caught up - it turns out we have a lot in common, and really enjoyed chatting... once so much that my mom was ready to chase us out so she and grandma could go to sleep (oops!). We went to the dining area one afternoon to see a local marimba band play. And at other times in between, and around mealtimes, we got to know some of my grandmother's friends and co-residents... she has a lot of really wonderful people around her. After only a few days with them, I realize how fortunate she is that they are there.
I stayed until after John's memorial service and reception on Friday afternoon. His kids got up to speak about their experiences and memories of him - they all did a fantastic job, given the difficult time. And we all stuck around to talk for awhile afterwards. It was difficult to go, but given the time I'd been away from home already, I was ready to really start heading that way. I'd given my hugs, and said my goodbyes, and started on my way.
It was almost 5:30pm when I left, and my only objective for the evening was to get north and away from the worst of the heat. My temperature gauge read 118 when I left, and I didn't stop for the evening until north and west of Flagstaff, where it was a blissful 84-degrees... and I was able to pull off and camp in the Jeep once more.
I already knew I wasn't going to make it home before the weekend and before Aaron went back to work for the week, but I did know that I didn't plan to stop and meander too much. Maybe just around the SW Colorado/San Juan Mountain areas... because it's gorgeous, and they have some easy areas to get off the pavement in short spurts. With no real plans on which route to take yet, I got some sleep... leaving that decision for the morning.
Mobile photos from the week:
|Me, Mom, my cousin, and Grandma|
|Grandma, my cousin, Mom, and John's 2 sons and daughter|
|Grandma's high school senior photo - I adore this!|
|The Marimba Band!|
|Smoke to the west of the mountains approaching Flagstaff|
|Smoke, taken while in Flagstaff|