I wrote this almost two years ago when grandma was passing, but never thought it was appropriate to share. Now that grandpa will be joining her shortly, presumably in the next day or so, I’ve changed my mind. It’s funny how life (and death) alter perspectives. The farther in life we travel, the less we give a **** what others think. So with the utmost respect for my family, and for myself as an expressive writer, this is what I wrote about grandma as I sat next to her frail figure not long before she left this world for another. I’m not looking for sympathy, just to get it off my chest. Plus, thinking about death is healthy.
I was able to say goodbye, although initially I didn’t know I wanted to. The last time I thought I was saying goodbye she was smiling. She wasn’t even 25%, but as I walked away and she sat in her lawn chair, on the large deck mom made so she could enjoy her last daze (a hazy twist on days), I knew things were as good as they could be. To see her again, knowing it would indeed be the last time, didn’t seem like the best idea. I didn’t want to tarnish my final image of her in a better state, cracking the occasional joke, her skin glowing in the warm Southern California sun. After all, as an artist, she would have probably agreed with my first call. But she didn’t have the chance. If she could have mouthed it, I imagine she would have told me, “Oh, hell no. Stay there and breathe the fresh mountain air. You don’t need to see me like this.” But she couldn’t. So I’m here.
To not show up would have been selfish. When she heard my voice and felt my presence, her face lit up and her mouth gaped open with excitement. I knew for sure she was happy I was in the same room. Although she only mumbled, she was obviously elated. She seems pretty content. A long, fulfilled life, remembered by the beautiful people and beautiful artwork that she created.
Is it selfish to write this in the ‘notes’ on my iPhone while I sit next to her during the final hours? It’s dark and quiet in here, anyway. I’m not quite sure. There are no tears, either. Is that selfish? Or would it be selfish to NOT write this down right here and now, if that’s when the inspiration hits? After all, she is the inspiration. As an artist herself, maybe she would appreciate it. Maybe.
I love you. Thank you. From all of us, and from all the rest whose lives you have helped to improve. From the high schoolers at the pep rallies you cheered for almost seven decades ago, to your own family, and even the children of Cape Cod that frequented the library where you volunteered so much of your free time. They may not know it or be able to express it, but they’re grateful.
And don’t worry, we’re all in good hands – thanks to your excellent parenting skills. Your husband and loyal co-pilot of 63 years will be by your side shortly. Please keep the pillow warm for him. We love you.
Ok…here come the tears…
[Skip ahead almost two years to August 18, 2015]
And now grandpa is “transitioning”. That’s what the hospice nurse calls it. I’m so glad I was able to see him one last time over the weekend. He wasn’t very talkative, but I got to make him laugh and watch him get a bit emotional about all the love and support he was being showered with. He was diagnosed with acute leukemia just weeks ago, at almost 90 years old, and after admirably choosing no treatment, he began dwindling rapidly. But it escalated the day after some of his family and friends left his side. Maybe he decided to let go a little more, and expedite his “transition” so he could be by his wife’s side even faster. Or maybe the cancer coincidentally picked up speed the same day we we said goodbye. Regardless, he’s ready. He even predicted he had four days left. That was two days ago. I wonder if he was right. If so, maybe I should have asked him who he thought would win the Super Bowl this year.
And that’s that. I love you, mom. You’re SO strong. I know you were given no choice, but I admire your strength and your ability to get through all of this with your head up, still enjoying work and travel while managing so many time- and energy-consuming family issues.
Headed back to the office now. It’s gonna be a long day. Some of the tears are sad, but some just seem to come because I’m so grateful for all the love in my life. Happy tears are the best tears, and it sure was nice to know happy tears streamed down both grandparents’ cheeks in our last moments together.
Sent from my iPhone