Yesterday was rough, y’all. I got a call from my father, who asked me to call Grandmother and talk to her, assess her over the phone. Grandmother’s 100th birthday is in August, and she lives in a (very nice…REALLY REALLY NICE) nursing home in Texas. Lest you get all indignant about her living so far from family, it was her choice. Anyway,a couple of weeks ago, she was moved (not physically, but in her care) from standard care to Hospice.
On one hand, this alarmed me. “HOSPICE!?” I thought. But…but…she’s not *that sick!* And really, she is in pretty good health for a 100 year old. But, according to the care nurses, and they know these things (seriously, I’ve met with them. They know their stuff),she is reaching The End Of Life. She spends a lot of time in the past, reminiscing about her parents and siblings (all whom have passed on), and is getting kind of…groggy, I guess.
I called her yesterday, and she was thrilled, but there was definitely something “off”. She wasn’t completely there, and I had to repeat myself a couple of times. This is very unusual behavior for her. She seemed preoccupied, and that is unusual for her.
So, I decided I was going to fly out to see her in July. I have several obligations to meet before then, but I made plans. And attempted to buy a plane ticket.
Do you believe that God messes with things, so that we will do what REALLY needs to be done? I have always said I believe that, but yesterday, trying to get that plane ticket, it became abundantly clear that He was messing with things to get me to change the plans.
I got online with Expedia, to get a ticket and car rental. Fine, no problem, great flight out of Atlanta, etc, decent price blah blah. Then, my American Express card didn’t work. What? I’d never had trouble with it before. So I tried Terry’s. Same thing. So I called Expedia and went through the process with a real person. Same thing, neither card worked. So Terry called American Express and they were all OhSoSorry! Some Issue! We’ll get on that right away!
So…then Terry comes downstairs with a funny look on his face and says “Let’s drive to Amarillo instead. We can leave Sunday and be back Friday, and it will cost the same as your plane ticket. I think God messed with the AMEX on purpose. and I think you need to see your grandmother sooner than July 10.”
and so it is.
13 years ago, just days after #4 was born, Terry got a funny feeling about his own grandmother, and drove to see her. She passed on 2 weeks later.
Yesterday…was tough for me. I thought a lot about Grandmother. Not just the 100 years old part…she remembers WW1. She grew up with a horses and a buggy for transportation. She has seen the world change in ways that boggle the mind. Antibiotics, air travel, all the way to computers and people on the moon. Her world has changed more drastically than I can imagine. Uncommon for women of her generation, she has a college degree, and never stopped learning something new.
I look around my house and there are bits and pieces of her everywhere. She loved to do needlework- any sort. I have her quilts on my wall, a needlepoint firescreen, several pictures on the wall of my sewing room. I have her old cookbooks, too. A 1950 Betty Crocker, a Gnomes Gnotebook she wrote her favorite recipes in. I inherited her love of sewing and cooking, and her sense of adventure in those things. I am also cautious like she is, and stubborn too. I have this beautiful painted china doll she made when I was 7. It was an experiment in creativity for her, and she said she enjoyed making the one she gave me, but couldn’t see making a whole bunch of them. I get that from her, too. I will make one or two of something, then wonder why do need 100 (of whatever, silk neckties, dyed scarves, homemade soaps), and move on to something else.
Grandmother went deaf at the age of 3, from an illness. She doesn’t remember what music sounds like, or birds singing, or another person’s voice. This served her well in her 71 year marriage to Grandad. He was an irascible old goat (from the age of 5, according to his brother Walter) and frequently went on rants and tirades. She would just turn off her hearing aid and look at him seriously. One of the things that kept me so emotional yesterday was the realization that when she passes on, SHE WILL HEAR MUSIC FOR THE FIRST TIME!
I am so incredibly excited for her! Of course I will miss her, but she has said for the last 5 years or so that she is ready to go, ready to see her siblings and parents again, and tired of being the only one she knows who’s still alive. I get that, and respect it.
I have many very happy memories with her, most of them formed as an adult. We didn’t see our grandparents very much growing up. We always lived far away and only saw them once every 3 or 4 years. My very first memory- Mom says I was 2-1/2 when this happened-was of playing in Grandmother’s rock garden. I had casts on my legs and was unable to walk, so they sat me down in the rock garden with an old Welch’s grape juice can and a couple of kitchen spoons. There was a bird bath filled with small blue ceramic tiles, and I played with them, filling up the juice can and dumping it out, stirring them around, making stacks and knocking them over. I remember it very clearly.
Once Terry and I married, we started traveling to Texas to see them. We took the boys, because I wanted them to know each other. Then as the boys got older, I started flying out there, to stay for a long weekend. She and I would work on a project, cook something, and generally enjoy each other’s company. I kept this up even after she moved out of the house and into assisted living. A couple of years ago she moved into the nursing home where she’s at now. Dad asked me to fly out there and check the place out, to make sure it was nice enough for her. It is. The people who work there are very committed to the care of the residents, and take real time with them.
Now that she’s in Hospice, I need to see her. It might (and maybe even probably) be the last time I see her. Maybe not. It could be that her grogginess and general behavior is a result of a medication change. That is something that needs to be looked into. I hope it won’t be the last time I see her, but I am prepared for it either way.
100 is a long time to live. She has outlived all of her siblings, friends, and 5 doctors. I don’t want her to go, she is a part of my heritage, something that I am attached to, in a way. I have never had a close family member pass on. Grandad died 6 years ago, but I wasn’t attached to him the way I am to Grandmother. When he died, it was more…Something To Do, I was able to be useful and plan the funeral, clean up his house, and that sort of thing. I was there. I don’t know if I will be able to do that for her. I know she would like it if I could.
The idea of letting go is hard. It’s not that I am howling NOOOOO DON”T GOOOOO! because I believe in Heaven and I know that’s where she’ll be, and that isn’t a platitude of someone patting my shoulder and saying “oh she’s in a better place now” in some attempt to comfort me. I KNOW she will be there, when she goes, and she will be with the people who love her, and she won’t be lonely anymore. It’s more…overwhelming…than anything. The idea that someone I know and love is actually on the cusp of this massive transition is incredibly exciting..and overwhelming.
And so I cry…some grief, even though she’s not gone yet, but mostly out of a sense of ..I am not sure what it is. I’ve never felt like this before.