It’s been 4 years to the day since my Grandma died. I wrote about her death here.
She was so important to me, a big part of my life. Over the years I’ve accepted that she’s gone. That, in many ways, her death was a blessing because she didn’t suffer for many more years with Alzheimer’s. But it took a long time to see that.
I still cry when I think about the last time she spoke to me just before hospice took over her care. Mom and I were lying with Grandma on her bed (the same one that’s now in my guest room), singing and talking. She looked at me and said, clear as day,
“I’m so proud of you.”
Later on she thought I had a daughter, so it was those little moments of clarity that we lived for. When her sweetness and caring spirit came through the disease that was taking her mind and memories one day at a time.
But then she was gone.
19 months later my Grandpa George was in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer. Something, intuition, told me to go. So I packed up at 10pm and drove until 1am to be at the hospital. Waiting. Shocked to see the blood bag wasn’t giving him fluids, it was collecting the blood pumping out of his frail body.
Terrified, when he started to die and my Mom left at 2am to get Grandma. Unable to say anything as the doctors worked, asking me if they should resuscitate him. If they could. Working frantically to stabilize his body.
Eight days. A hail mary pass. Dad flying home suddenly. Working from the hospital. Waiting to hear. Getting the call that he was gone. The day after my birthday.
Then a whole year waiting, holding my breath, relieved when no one died. Wondering if it was normal and still knowing it’s not.
Then, September. JT. The phone call we never expected to get and crying in my kitchen and wondering why? Why? 26 years old. A little girl who points to the stars and says with childlike innocence “Daddy’s in heaven!”
Regrets. Fear. Pain. Watching people I love break down completely.
I live in a small town. And have lived within 5 miles of my Grandparents and their care homes for 7 years. Every time I didn’t stop in to visit. Every time I let life get busy, that nagging voice would say “don’t.”
So I didn’t stay away often. I didn’t let months pass without seeing him. Even short visits were special. I know it’s what I would have wanted. Still, I told myself that whether or not I make it, there’s a chance that Grandpa could die after I didn’t visit.
Which is exactly what happened.
I wanted to see him on Valentine’s Day. I bought a brownie for him. But he was sick, an infection. Sleeping a lot. Wary of sharing germs and making him sicker, I stayed away. 7 days later he was gone.
There’s a song on the radio I heard after Grandpa died. And it hits me, right in the feels.
“Here I am waiting,
I’ll have to leave soon,
Why am I, holding on?
We knew this day would come
We knew it all along
How did it come so fast?”
After Grandma died some people said Grandpa would “fade in 6 months, or a year tops.” But he didn’t give up, he kept on living and loving the time with his friends.
Tomorrow we say good-bye. Tonight was the last time to see Grandpa. Once again the lyrics from this song were ringing in my ears:
“The sky is getting light,
the stars are burning out,
somebody slow it down,
This is way too hard,
Cause I know,
When the sun comes up,
I will leave,
This is my last glance,
That will soon be memory.”
Throughout it all, the heartache, the pain. The countless hours helping with details and doing whatever I could (often filling in a void when other family were unable or unwilling to step in).
Four people I love put into the ground.
In four years.
Everyone has their limits and I think I’ve reached mine.
*Song lyrics “Daylight” by Maroon 5