|Grandmother and Grandpa, at her parents' graves
In the midst of the stressful last week of the quarter and house buying craziness (this was the day of the sewer scope), the news that my grandmother was maybe dying (there wasn't much news as to what was actually going on initially) was the straw that broke the camel's back. I emailed Ryan and our realtor and let them know what was going on and that I'd wanted to make a decision about mortgage stuff that day but was mentally drained and just done for the day. They needed to look at the numbers and tell me what they thought.
I felt like I should be used to a grandparent dying since my grandpa had died just a year earlier. But it was still surprising and deeply saddening. My aunt and mom kindly arranged for me to have a video "chat" with my grandmother on Thursday. She looked beautiful and calm and comfortable (she was on morphine by that point, so hence the comfort, despite all her organs shutting down). I'm glad I was able to see her one last time, and that she looked so well. And to be able to talk about some of my memories with her. Malcolm came and joined me toward the end of the call, so she got to see him as well, though she was suffering from dementia/alzheimers and I don't know how much she was actually cognizant of at that point. Too bad Mal won't remember it at all.
It took a while to square the person I saw in that bed and the person who had died with my grandmother. You know full well that they are old and that when you get old your body wears out and you die. And you know that that is exactly what has happened with this person you love. But this other part of your brain screams out that that's ridiculous! That person is, of course, still around, about age 65, just as they always have been! It doesn't last forever, of course, but it takes a surprising amount of convincing to get my brain to fully acknowledge the death, to get to where there isn't a slight hesitation of confusion when thinking about it.
Some of my memories of my grandmother:
- I loved watching her get ready in the morning when I was little. I remember her sitting on the edge of the bed in Matthew's room (where they always stayed when they came to visit), and the way she put on her lotion and makeup. There was something fascinating about that as a little kid.
- I always looked forward to the packages she sent at holidays. Often small tins with goodies. I still have the trick-or-treating bag she made for me and Gareth uses it now. Mal uses a newer one that my mom made using the ones made by grandmother as a pattern.
- One summer they drove out to NJ and then drove with us to Maine for a camping trip. I don't know how they managed to love driving so much. I'm amazed that they were up for a camping trip in their 60s (I hope I'm still up for sleeping on the ground at that point in my life!). This was one of my favorite childhood vacations.
- When I drove to Utah with my grandparents for college one time, they let me drive for a bit. I wasn't very experienced as I hated driving and we only had stick shifts growing up, which made me hate it even more after some less-than-encouraging experiences. Not too long after we set out with me driving, it started raining - sheets of rain. They'd forgotten to tell me where all the controls where, so I had no clue how to turn on the wipers. I couldn't see anything out the window and nearly got us in an accident as I tried to find the lever for wipers. They weren't upset with me at all and continued to be encouraging, despite the fact that we could've been killed by that mishap.
- One Thanksgiving in college I stayed at their house for the holiday. Grandmother asked me to dress the turkey. I had no clue what I was doing - I'd never done it before, and felt surprised that she'd entrust that to me. My grandpa helped guide me through and they both raved over the herbs I chose to use.
- All the concerts. They came to as many as they could, and all the most important ones.
- The huge hugs whenever they or I got off an airplane.
- I remember picking them up when they got back from Pakistan. She gasped when she got off the plane and commented that I looked Pakistani. I was a bit incredulous at the time, but in the years after that I had at least a couple people each year wonder if I was Pakistani or Indian (and these were people from those countries).
- I always loved a story from when she and my grandpa lived in New Jersey. Apparently one day she went into the city with a friend. For some reason they ended up walking the entire length of the city during the day, bad areas and all. My grandpa was not at all happy when they got home and he found this out. My grandmother didn't care at all and essentially told him he was being silly and that everything was wonderful and beautiful. Or something to that effect. She always saw the best in everyone and everything.
- Just seven years ago, Ryan was in Salt Lake at the University of Utah for a "see-the-campus" sort of thing. They put him up with a current grad. student and the state of that person's apartment was horrific. I called up my grandparents and they happily drove from Sandy to Salt Lake to rescue him and let him stay with them for the rest of the weekend.
My grandmother lived a full life, never shying away from new adventures. And she's left a lot of beautiful memories with those who knew her. I hope that when I die my children (and grandchildren if I have them) will have as fond memories of me as I have of my grandmother.
|Grandmother with her brother