He also had a fall in the bathroom not long ago. I heard a bang and a crash in the bathroom and ran to find Mike lying on the floor. He was crying this time, so I thought he had hurt himself. I asked him where it hurt and he said he was fine. I joined him on the floor and we both had a good cry. I later told Mike it was okay to have a good cry about it now and then...he always keeps his chin up and I wanted to give him ‘permission’ to let his chin down.The most recent fall happened on Easter day. All the kids were home and our granddaughter, Leah was here too. I was upstairs and aware that Mike had finished his bike ride. I was just changing quickly and planned to head right out to the garage to offer Mike some help into the house. Instead of waiting for me, he decided to come in on his own. Normally, that’s okay, but the back gate was closed, so Mike thought he would walk around to the front and was going to cross the front yard and go in the front door. But our front yard is raised slightly and as Mike tried to come up the slope, he lost his balance and fell. I could hear him yell as I was just coming down from upstairs. We all ran out to where Mike was lying on the driveway. He assured us that he was okay and Nathan and I helped him up.
Mike had some scratches on his back and his elbow was bleeding. Leah was very concerned about Granddad’s elbow and insisted that we get a band-aid for him right away. We told Leah that Granddad needed to clean his wound first and then she could put a band-aid on his elbow.Mike made his way up the stairs to have a shower and I followed him. As we slowly climbed, we listened to Leah express her concern for Granddad. She kept telling her dad that Granddad fell off his bike and needed a band-aid. (It was easier to agree that he fell off his bike than explain that he fell while walking across the front yard)
Throughout the day, Leah kept saying to Mike, “You fell off your bike?” She told Mike that she fell off her new bike and she kept pulling up her pant leg to show Mike the band-aid that covered the sore on her knee. She looked at him with an empathetic look. She knew what it felt like to fall off a bike…it’s really scary and it hurts.Leah wasn’t quite two when Mike was diagnosed. She is now three and has observed Mike’s health decline over the past year. She knows something is up, but of course can’t remember the big announcement that Granddad has ALS. She never asks about it, she just adjusts to the changes that are happening to Granddad.
He loved picking her up and carrying her around the yard and playing with her. Throwing her up in the air and catching her, holding her on his lap and other things that granddads love to do with their grandchildren. Unfortunately, Mike can’t do those things any more.Leah doesn’t ask Granddad to pick her up because she knows he can’t, instead, she climbs up on the couch beside him and then steps over his legs with one foot and sits down on his lap.
She knows Granddad needs help, but never asks why. She waits patiently for us to get him ready to go to the park or to the rink or wherever it is we are going.A few weeks ago, we were heading out and I helped Mike on with his sweat shirt. Mike said he should go to the bathroom before we left. He slowly made his way to the bathroom. Nathan and I waited at the front door and Leah followed Granddad. She noticed that his sweat shirt was folded up a bit at the back. She stopped him and with her little hand she gently pulled his sweat shirt down. I will never forget those little red fingernails on her little helpful hand as she patted the back of Mike’s sweat shirt so it would lay flat.
It’s interesting and inspiring to watch Leah handle the changes that are happening to her Granddad. She has a certain understanding and a peace about it. There are lessons to be learned from this special little three year old.
Granddad needs a band-aid
Leah putting a band-aid on granddad's elbow
A 'Dora' band-aid for Granddad