I’m back from an eight day break in routine that was, in some ways, like a breath of fresh air.
And then yesterday, I got a call from my mom that has sort of blurred everything that happened in those eight days.
I wrote about my grandma last year, that she was not going to live much longer. That I might not see her again. She fell yesterday morning. It was bad. She has a brain bleed. She hasn’t woken up since then.
They moved her to my aunt and uncle’s house, where my mom, her sister, brother, sister-in-law and dad are all congregated. I would like to go in the middle of the night, in my sleep. But if I had to hold on, I’d like it to be like this. Surrounded by family, saying their goodbyes.
I called there yesterday afternoon. Had my cousin put the phone up to my grandma’s ear. I said goodbye, in my way. I told her I loved her and I missed her and how happy I was to know she was surrounded by her family. She had no response, of course, but I’d like to think she could hear my voice. Another part of her family. Her first grandchild.
I imagine people reading this and balking: “It’s just your grandma. Big deal. All of my grandparents are dead.”
That may be. But she wasn’t just my grandmother. She was a whole lot more to me.
She was my silly grandma, who danced in her living room to the music on the Lawrence Welk show. She was my caring grandma, who let her grandchildren be just as goofy as they wanted to be and never questioned it. She was hospitible in a way I’ve hardly ever known from anyone else – I used to spend weeks at her house during the summers, riding down to the community pool in the back of my grandpa’s truck, bare feet hanging off the tailgate. She came along, put on a bathing suit, and rarely went swimming.
When my heart was broken at the age of seventeen (or anyway, I thought it was broken), I called her and asked if I could come to stay for a weekend. My mom drove me to the ferry and my grandpa picked me up on the other side. Grandma wanted to fix me my favourite foods – she always did – and she set up their motorhome for me to stay in so I could have some privacy. She understood that I would want it, even though I never explained my reasons for running away those few days.
She fussed over us at times, but we always knew it was just because she loved us.
When I had my babies, she sent cards for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and birthdays, always with a five dollar bill tucked inside for each kid. We saved those bills for years and now have a bit of money to spend on the kids when we visit later this month. We’re planning on taking them to the aquarium. She also sent books for them, and stuffed animals. She called often and usually asked to talk to my Jenny Rose, the great-granddaughter named for her oldest daughter.
I will miss her so very much. I already do, as her health has been declining for some time now. It’s hard to let go. My grandpa seems to be in such good health and I would love to imagine that all of my grandparents would live until they were past one hundred. But it is not to be.
She is not gone yet, but she does not have long. They are talking about her memorial service, hoping to postpone it until we head down for a visit in two weeks and other family members from far away can make their way to Washington. The timing of this really gets me. We planned our trip in hopes that we would get to see her one last time.
What gets me is all the things I never asked her. The last conversation I never had with her. Every time I talked to her, I imagined it could be the last time, but I haven’t phoned in some time now. I feel bad about that.
I’m looking forward to hugging my grandpa and resting my head on his chest, just like I did all the time when I was a little girl. Smell that familiar grandpa-smell. I believe that he’s been grieving for awhile now, seeing it coming. I imagine that there is some relief when it all ends, but a hope lost that there might just be a recovery. I’m thankful that my grandparents have had some fifty-six years of marriage to each other. They have four kids, twelve grandkids and six great-grandkids. I like to think that my grandma has had a fulfilling life and is ready to go. I hope I’m right.