Monday, March 28, 2011


Thursday morning after I finished with aquatic physical therapy, I checked my phone to find text messages from my mom saying to call her ASAP. She said Pearl, my grandmother was not doing well and she was going to visit her. I hurried home, set my personal time record for showering and packing, made the hour drive to my mom's house, got into her car, and finished the hour and a half drive to Palm Desert, CA. We were worried sick and wanted to make sure we could spend some time with her no matter what the outcome.
{Pearl on the back patio at home}

Thinking it would burden us, my Grandpa hadn't mentioned to us that Pearl had been in the hospital for 9 days after a minor heart attack, putting in a pacemaker, pneumonia, and now diagnosed with congenital heart failure. Now back at home, also suffering from bed sores and a urinary tract infection. Pearl is 90 years old and quite the fighter. She had another heart attack many years ago, but otherwise has been the perfect model of health.
Pearl is not actually grandmother, more my step-grandmother. My mom's mom died when I was about 3 or 4 years old and only have one fuzzy memory of her. Grandpa met Pearl while living with his best friend, Lee, and they have been together for 14 years. When I was younger I used to refer to Pearl as my "Grandfriend" but I do think of her as my Grandmother. Pearl is generous, curious, loves people, befriending anyone who will talk with her, loves to paint, always the fashionista...even when lying in her hospital bed, a New York native, and loves to travel.
{Even when sick, Pearl looks her fabulous self}

It was tough to see her feeling so miserable. As I lay next to her on the hospital bed set up in her bedroom, I stroked her beautiful white hair and we talked about how she didn't feel like herself, how I could relate to how she felt, how happy she was to have us there. I spent hours reading to her from Jane Fonda's biography "My Life So Far." I did my best to distract her, asking her questions like "if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" And my mom brought photos from our family roadtrip to Arizona 12 years ago. It was very special to spend this time with her.

Every day for her is challenging, but we are hoping for the best. Pearl is so strong and I think she can pull through - painting, hosting dinner parties, and going for walks in no time. It made my mom and me so happy when the new nurse was asking Pearl how she was feeling and her reply was "oh fabulous. Fantastic. I just can't decide what I want to wear to the ball." This was the first time we truly saw Pearl being Pearl...and I think that is a great sign. Below are photos of Pearl from last Thanksgiving.


  1. I am sorry about Pearl. I can tell from your photos that she is quite a character with lots of personality! I know it is so hard to see someone you love when they are ill :(

  2. What an amazing woman, I hope she gets better quickly. I so admire her long hair. I promised myself years ago that I would have long hair when I was elderly - I just love it <3

  3. Hi Chelsea -

    Enjoyed looking at your site. You are a wonderful writer and photographer...and also a pretty wonderful person too! Good seeing you last month.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...