Elva is what my grandmother’s Texan-German relatives call her – short for Evangeline. She is more than 90 years old, and remembers bouncing on her Civil War veteran grandfather’s knee before 1914, while he called her “My little elf” (in German). She’s fifth-generation Texan, but was raised in a farming community where everybody spoke German, so she didn’t learn English until she started to school. She raised eight children while working in nursing and food service, first in Houston and later in St. Louis.
My grandmother has macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in the United States. Even without her hearing aid, she can hear a whole lot better than she can see. She can only see shapes, blurs and light. She makes her way through the house by feel. Living in the same house for nearly fifty years gives you a good feel for it.
Even before her recent mild stroke, Elva has been getting a little slower when she walks and thinks, a little more forgetful, a little more confused at night. But as she says, “I haven’t lost all my marbles yet!” Most people are amazed at how well she’s doing, considering her age.
Along with my youngest uncle, who is four years older than me, I live with my grandma in St. Louis, helping to care for her. Her (my) bedroom serves as my office, as I do search engine marketing for a few clients.
Update: My grandmother passed away in June 2006.
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