Thursday morning, I got word that my grandmother’s health was in rapid decline. She’d been in poor health for a few weeks with pneumonia, but now the hospice nurse said her body was shutting down. I went straight over to her house to spend the day with my aunts and to say my goodbyes.
She looked rough. I last saw my grandma in the fall, and she was doing so well. Laughing, singing, dancing, telling stories from when her seven kids were young. We talked to her over the phone for Christmas – her health prevents much in the way of visits over the colder months – and she was strong and doing well then, too. It was a shock to see how much she had changed. She struggled to speak, but she told me that she was ready, that she was going to be with my grandpa again, and she asked me to remember that love was the most important thing, the most enduring thing. When I left a few hours later, she told me to tell my boys goodbye for her. We got a message the next afternoon that she said she was ready and had asked for morphine. A couple hours later, she passed away.
My grandmother is the fifth member of my family that I’ve said goodbye to (that I was old enough to remember, anyway), and one of the hardest goodbyes for me. I was particularly close to her. My sister and I used to stay at her house in the summer for a few weeks while our parents and younger siblings went back to South Carolina where we lived. She taught us to knit, let us build “houses” out of couch pillows, gave us Flintstones vitamins every night before bed. When I was around 11 or 12 years old, she gave up a pack-a-day smoking habit cold turkey, one of the hardest things I’ve ever seen anyone do. She was just so strong and so sharp. Even after her body began to fail her and she couldn’t walk anymore, her mind was so sharp. She could remember the tiniest details and tell stories like no one else I’ve ever known.
I have so many memories. My grandma always led the songs and cheering during birthday parties with specific intros. She made the best spaghetti, and she forced me to eat peaches even when I didn’t like them (ha!). Her entire dining room was covered from floor to vaulted ceiling with framed photos, hundreds of them, until the last few years when she could no longer keep up with the dusting. She was from Britain and had the best accent, with a touch of Bronx from my grandpa mixed in over the years. My sister and I used to hug fire hydrants when we were five-ish, calling them “grandma” because we missed her when we lived in South Carolina and she was in Texas.
Grief has always been a bit unpredictable for me. The last few days, I’ve had moments when I feel put together and moments when I start having panic attacks and moments where I start sobbing out of nowhere. I don’t know exactly how the next few weeks will go. Sometimes while grieving, I tend to throw myself into writing, and I might start drafting blog posts for the next few weeks. Sometimes I withdraw into my in-real-life support system and disappear from the online world altogether. I don’t know how it will be for me now. I have one post pre-drafted for the week already, before I got the news, and that will still post, but otherwise I don’t have any plans and I might be sporadic for a time. If I’m not posting here and not commenting on your blogs for now, please know I’ll be back as soon as I’m recovered.
Thank you all for listening. I’m grateful for my support system (both on- and offline), and for being able to say goodbye to my grandmother, and for my family members that have taken such good care of Grandma over the years, and for being back in San Antonio so that I was able to spend one of her last days by her side. I’m grateful that once her pain got to be too much, she didn’t have to linger long in agony. I’m grateful that she had to a chance to tell so many of us goodbye. I’m grateful that my boys got to know her and are old enough to remember. I’m grateful for my husband for taking care of things while I’m out of commission, and for his very flexible job, and for the kitties who know something’s up and keep trying to comfort me. I’m grateful for yoga, which has helped to keep me grounded while my body tries to process the grief physically. I’m grateful for so many things, and I know the love of my family and friends will help me to get through this time.