Friday, August 14, 2009

Sail On, Silver Girl...

This morning, around 2:20, my Grandma left this existence and now - at least I believe - understands everything.

My heart is heavy (I now know what that expression means) and I go through moments of feeling completely resolved to feeling absolutely lost. She was my compass. She was my friend. And she was a fantastic grandmother.

My Grandma was a surprise baby born to parents in their midlives...something that was pretty much unheard of in 1918. When people told her expecting mother how sorry they were to hear about her "predicament," my great-grandmother replied with, "Don't you feel sorry for me! This baby is going to be the greatest blessing of our lives." And she was.

I could go on and on about how wonderful and talented my Grandma was and tell you all the things she's accomplished. But it won't really matter to offense meant by's just that you didn't know her except through me. But maybe this will give you an idea of the kind of woman she was. Plus, it's one of my favorite memories of her...

When my parents split up, I had just graduated from high school. In a nutshell, life sucked. We had no money, Mom was out of her mind from her 30+ year marriage ending, and my sister (yes, I have one of those, though I don't really talk about it here) was very into her own life so it was pretty much me on my own. I had a job but no car, and my Grandma volunteered to take me to and from college and work. I saw her just about every day.

It was evident to her that I was not eating, so she began showing up early to drive me to work. "Have you eaten?" she'd ask. Before I knew it, we were at the mall food court with a tray of food that I wasn't interested in. But she'd get me talking and before long, I'd eaten half a baked potato. Or half a sandwich. Or something. But the fact is, she'd get me to eat. Sometimes, I'd go dump our trays and when I'd return to the table and she'd be gone.

The first time this happened, I thought she was in the ladies room. After a few minutes, I started to worry. Until I heard, "Yooo hooo! Over here!"

I turned to see my Grandma going round on the full-size carousel that was in the game area of the mall. She was laughing and laughing and after a few seconds, I started laughing, too. I laughed until I cried. And then I got on, too. And this became our thing.

And that is my Grandma.

We had a tough visit on Wednesday. She was suffering and trapped. She wasn't herself. But last night was different and I'm thankful. She was very weak, but her hallucinations weren't scary. At one point, she asked that I pull back the drapes. She said, "I'm living inside a big flower garden," and I told her that was a nice place to be. She told me about the tree in her room and how she takes a leaf from it every day. She fell asleep for a moment and she must have been dreaming she was on the phone, because I heard her say, "Okay, I'll talk to you later! Bye bye!" in her bright and cheery way. And she told me she dreamt that she was "shopping for a big affair." We said our I love you's and she squeezed my hand and said, "Be safe." When I promised I would and said not to worry, she whispered, "besafe, besafe, besafe..."

Last night, Steinvic called, which he has been so dutiful about since this began, and I told him that I really hoped Grandma would die in her sleep. In the night, she felt like she couldn't breathe as easily, so they gave her a sedative, just to relax her, but that was the little push she needed to help her over to where she so desperately needed to be.

I can't even describe how I feel today. I'm at work, because that is how I cope. I will leave to go see my Mom this afternoon and then I will head north to be with Steinvic. That is where Mom says my Grandma wants me to be...

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