Family Collage 2015

Family Collage 2015

Friday, July 18, 2014

Goodbye Grandma

I knew this day would come. I've spent the past 10-15 years knowing what my greatest fear was. It wasn't spiders or something silly. It was the phone call I would get that would tell me that my Grandma had died. I had expected it many times over the years. The first time was when I was in graduate school and I flew across the country to sit beside her and my family when she went through open heart surgery. We all thought she might not make it, but she did. A couple of years ago she had some major medical challenges that landed her in the hospital and eventually forced her into a retirement community. We all thought that the transition out of her own space, into this group living environment, might be too much. But it wasn't. Once again she flourished, made friends, attended activities, and enjoyed living closer to her daughter Linda and me and Maddy. This past fall was one of our scariest encounters. She was rushed to the ER and required multiple blood transfusions. She had to live in a rehabilitation center for almost two months and we really didn't think she would recover. We all prepared for the worst and once again, we were wrong. She got stronger, she got better, she stopped using her oxygen, she started walking more, she was her best self.

The past six months have been filled with so many special memories. Grandma was able to travel to Oregon for Christmas and we have so many amazing pictures of her with her great-grandchildren opening presents. We all made a somewhat impromptu trip to Vancouver for Mother's Day to help her celebrate her big day. And finally, she attended our annual camping trip to southern Oregon two weeks ago, spending 5 days with her children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren. We laughed, played bingo, danced to a local band, sat around the campfire and just enjoyed each other. I am so grateful for these special memories.

Even though I had often played the scenario over in my head of what it would be like when my Aunt or my Dad called to tell me that she had died, I wasn't prepared. I had thought about what I would do or say, or how I would feel, but nothing could prepare me for the debilitating grief I am feeling. The call came this past Sunday, July 13. I won't go into the details that lead up to it, as it doesn't really matter. What matters is that my Aunt was there with her and was holding her hand and telling her that we loved her. What matters is that it happened quickly, that she didn't suffer. What matters is that within 24 hours, her children and grandchildren all came to say their goodbyes. What matters is that my brother Dan and I had extremely difficult conversations with her great-grandchildren Hayden, Maddy and Paisley, to make sure they know how much she loved them. What matters is that we got 84 wonderful years with her and we have more memories than we can count.

My family is very sad right now. We can rationalize that she's in a better place, that she doesn't have to face anymore medical ailments, that she has been reunited with my Grandpa, but all of that rationalizing only gets you so far. Right now I am selfishly wishing she was still here. I am wishing I could hug her one more time. I am wishing that she could play with my daughter one more time. I am wishing I could call her and hear her excited voice when Maddy and I shout, HI GRAMMIE into the phone. I am also wishing for things that haven't yet happened. I am wishing she could come visit me when we finally move into a new house. I am wishing she could share with me the joy that will come when I earn my PhD later this year. I am wishing that she could hold her future great-grandchildren. None of those things will happen and I am so sad thinking about the emptiness I will feel when I won't be able to completely enjoy those milestones because she won't be here with me. I knew this day would come but I am still not ready to face it.

1 comment: