My grandmother has been very not well for a very long time. She is the only living grandparent I have left and she has had a very rough go of it for the last four or five years. She has been living in assisted living facilities for a while and the hospice people came to see her yesterday and they figure she has about one to three weeks left. She has given up and at this point, I can't really say I blame her.
My mom called to tell me this last night, and let me know that if I want to go see my grandma one more time, I should probably do so in the next week or so. And last night, I was fine. My mom told me, we chatted about some other things, and I went about my evening like it was any other Wednesday night.
But this morning, on my way in to work, I remembered this sweatshirt I painted for my grandma for Christmas one year and how I thought it was kind of cheesy but that she might get a kick out of it, so I gave it to her. And every year after that, she wore it for Christmas. Just because I made it for her. And I remembered playing with the Winnie the Pooh dolls and the poker chips at her house. I remember so many holidays at her house when I was a kid and how if you were lucky, you got the seat on the couch by the fireplace where it was so nice and toasty warm. I remember when the 17-year cicadas came out when I was a teenager and how my brother and I collected them in a paper bag from my grandma's backyard so we could try to transplant them to our own neighborhood. I remember her one pink bathroom always had pink toilet paper in it. I remember coming back from our family reunion in Arizona and she and I were on the same flight, so we sat in the airport just talking for a while and it was probably the best conversation I ever had with my grandmother. She listened and was supportive and non-judgmental. I know other people have had different experiences with her, but I felt very close to her then, like I actually started to get to know her as a person and she was a pretty cool person. I remember she used to string up Christmas ribbon across her dining room and hang her Christmas cards on it every year. I remember watching Cubs games at her house. I remember being fascinated by her skin when I was little because it was paper-y thin, but also really soft. I remember how her lipstick used to get kind of clumpy by the end of the day. I remember that she always had lots of pictures around of all of her family and that made her house feel very home-y to me. I remember the matching rust-colored recliners she and my grandpa had. I remember her piano and the bookshelves that covered the wall and the deer head hanging over her basement stairs. She used to play the organ at church, and for a long time, she was very active with the MDDA because she herself was bi-polar. I remember when the doors fell off of my car and it had to go in for repairs, she let me borrow her car for a few days and she was so pleased to be able to help me with something. My mom always made sure that Grandma was part of our lives and I'm glad she did that.
My grandmother has not yet passed away. But it will happen soon. We've all known for a long time that it was coming and she has suffered so much for so long. She doesn't have some dread disease like cancer or congestive heart failure that will ultimately do her in. She's just been wasting away for a long time. Over-medicated. Losing her mind. And finally, losing her will. It is sad. It is very sad. I will be very sad to see my grandmother go. But it will be good for her to not be suffering anymore. The last time I saw her (this past Christmas), she was spending her days watching the clock, waiting for it to be bedtime. She had eliminated all things from her life that used to bring her joy - music, books, all of it - and believed it was too late to have any of those things anymore. She has been depressed and joyless and hopeless for four or five years, but also absolutely terrified to die. We think she has finally given up and decided that maybe death isn't so scary. And while nobody wants to see a family member die, nobody wants to watch them suffer like this, either. We will all be sad and we will all miss her terribly, but we will all be relieved for her, too.
I love you, Grandma.
I love you.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
You know, if I ever get to the point in my life where I am sharing my bed with another person on a regular basis, I feel kind of sorry for that person having to wake up next to me every morning and deal with my random dream-inspired ramblings like, "But I don't know what kind of cheese is in me" or "I'm not done downloading yet" as they try to get me out of bed. Whoever that person may be, I apologize in advance.