Monday, May 17, 2010

Bye For Now

This past week has been incredibly difficult for me.  My dear sweet amazing Gram passed away last Tuesday, May 11th.  Just writing that is hard.  It makes it real and I'm still struggling with it being a fact.  She lived an amazing 93 years and, until just the last couple of months, she was incredibly lucid and physically fit for someone her age.  I don't mean to say she was running marathons or anything, but she was very able.  In January, she fell and broke her hip.  Despite our wishes, the doctors used general anesthesia in the surgery.  In September 2008 she had the first surgery of her life and had a hard time shaking off the anesthesia then.  This time it stayed with her.  Seeing her mental capacity fade was incredibly difficult but it was comforting that she knew who I was til the very end. 

Unlike most 93 year olds, her hip healed amazingly well and her vital signs were strong.  Mentally, however, she faded quickly.  She was in a rehab center for a couple of months immediately after the surgery and was confused about where she was and why she was there the entire time.  Bringing her home was a relief for us in many ways but also difficult.  My parents found an incredibly kind caregiver for my Gram, Clare, who lived with her downstairs.  Having Clare around made things so much easier on my parents and Gram.  I know she got frustrated at times but she was so patient with her and had a genuine desire to help her get better.

My dad called me on Tuesday morning about twenty minutes after she passed.  He and Clare had been with her during the morning when she was struggling to breathe.  She finally let go around 7:40am.  Although it is something we had prepared ourselves for, it has been harder than I imagined it would be.  I constantly see things around the city that remind me of her.  Just this morning, I had a client who's beneficiary had the same birthday she did, September 19th.  Normally, it would make me smile and think of her, but right now they are just reminders that she is gone and it hits me right in the chest every time.

I was lucky enough to have her in my life for many years.  As my aunt put it, "you have never known life without her."  That made me realize that none of us have.  The only person who had a life before her that is still around is my adorable great aunt Dorothy (98 years old and still fiesty as ever).  Gram moved into our home when I was four years old so I spent a lot of time with her.  We would do all kinds of things together.  We spent many hours working in the garden, working with her wool (she loved to knit and made her own yarn), and cooking.  When I got hurt, she always had a remedy.  When I was happy, she was always there to be happy for me.  She was genuinely kind and caring and wanted everyone to be content as well.  She definitely had her fiesty side and could be quite sassy and sarcastic in her responses, but those things only endeared her more.

I love her so much.  Luckily I had a chance to spend a few hours with her about three weeks ago.  She was easily distracted but I was able to ask her questions about herself to test her memory and I was amazed at how well she did.  We didn't really have a conversation like we used to do, but just spending time with her was precious to me.  She told me how much she loved me and I told her the same back.  I told her how beautiful she was and she said, "that's so sweet of you."  To the very end, she was unbelievably kind and caring.  She was never a cranky old person.  She always wanted to know what we were up to and was always supportive.  I am sad I will never be able to send her a letter from England to let her know what's going on.  I am sad I will never create any more memories with her.  I am sad I can't hug her or kiss her again.  But I am happy I had the time I did and that she knew I loved her before she left.

Whenever she was on the phone with someone, she would always end the call with, "Bye for now"  So I will just say, Bye for now, my sweet Gram.