I’ve been thinking a lot about my Grandma these last several days. I can only imagine how hard it must be for her to wake up every morning. While I am grateful every time my eyes open from sleep I know she has somewhere else she wants to be. Truth be told she’s been wanting to be there for about 27 years now, but I know her yearning has increased over the years. Her husband, my grandpa died 27 years ago. That was when she first wanted to be somewhere else. She wanted to leave this earth to be with him. For several years I’ve made a joke of it, saying “Grandma’s been dying for “insert years that Grandpa’s been gone”. It started being less of a joke though as her children started dying. Her children and her husband, all of them received the news they had some form of cancer and eventually after much or little struggle they each died and left her, and me, one of those children of her’s was my mother.
Grandma is 98 years old. I don’t get to see her as often as I would like to. I live 10 miles away which doesn’t seem that far, but it can seem like 100 miles some days. My life is busy and full. I’ve had my own cancer diagnosis so I try hard to fill my days with activity. I don’t like sitting. I have a hard time sitting still for long conversations. My mind is easily distracted, some of it I blame on the Chemo I had all those years ago. Some of it I’m told is because I’m getting old. I’d rather blame it on the chemo, even though I am joyful for every year I’ve lived!
I try to stop and see Grandma on Sunday’s when I’m in town for Church. Last Sunday I spent several hours with her. It’s not that we talked a lot that day, but it is what we talked about that made me think a little harder about what it must be like to be in “her shoes”. Where my hours pass by too quickly for me to fit every thing into the day, her hours pass so incredibly slow as she sits on her couch day after day after day. She doesn’t see or hear well anymore and sometimes I have to tell her things a few times before the meaning sinks in. She is weak, and rarely leaves her house. My cousin can get her to go for her haircut, but she told me how long she had to sit and wait. She wants to be home, not sitting in someone else’s home for 5 minutes.
I am grateful that over the years I have sat and talked with her, asking her questions about her family and her life before I was born, but I wish I had more time to get the stories that I know straight in my mind and hear the stories she didn’t share before, but tries to share now. I wish her eyes could see to tell me the names of all the people in all the old photographs she has. Some I’m sure are just acquaintances or old friends of her’s, her children’s and her husband’s. I know however some of these are family and I’ll never know. We all seem to realize too late how important family is.
I’ve lost the moment with her to get all the stories. She seems more ready to go than I have thought before. When Grandma was turning 80 I sent a letter off to some adult grandkids that were young children the last time they saw her. I admit I laid on the guilt about how old she was and that she wasn’t doing so good and who knew how long she’d be here for them to have their last chance to see her. I’ve been reminded by one of those kid’s over the years of that letter so many years ago that Grandma is still here! She’s been ready to go for 27 years, but before the words were, “I might not be here when you get back” and those words have changed to “when I die”, and I wonder just how many more Sundays I’m going to have with her. She’s tired, more tired than I believe I’ve seen her since my Grandpa died. Her baby, my mother was the last one to leave her. Mom died a year ago. I can not begin to imagine what it would be like to lose my husband and then one child after another. All of them gone. To sit on her couch day after day knowing how alone she is. She is the last child of her own brother’s and sister’s still living. Outlived them all and practically outlived all of her husband’s brothers and sisters and outlived most of her friends as well. No one left to gossip with on the phone to pass all those hours.
As I sat there on Sunday in the chair next to the couch, looking at her and that old frayed brown couch I think of all the memories in this old house. I haven’t just visited here I have lived here. I wonder now truly for the first time what my life will be like without her, without all these Sunday visits. I never believed her before when she said she might not be here, but now I know she could very well be right. No one lives forever and she is 98. When I tell people how old my Grandma is they talk about how amazing and wonderful that she’s lived such a long life. I can’t honestly say that it has been amazing and wonderful for her with all the loss she has suffered, but I do know that for me it has been amazing and wonderful to have her here with me to tell me the old stories and for my kids to know their Great Grandma. The old family stories will once and for all be silenced. I wonder what will happen to this house that I have visited and lived in and I wonder how my life will change when she won’t be here when I get back.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from JL The Turtle is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JL The Turtle and The Accidental Thoughts of a Turtle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.